Humbug to holiday shopping

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Nov 282007
 
Authors: Phil Elder

There is a cancer eating at the heart of American wallets, its vampiric lust unquenched and unchecked as it rampantly devours more and more of our lives and our cash.

This proverbial blob goes by many names, the most pertinent of which is well known by all: the holiday season.

At four o’clock in the morning on Nov. 23 in counties across California, Mervyn’s opened their doors to find miles of stacked up suburban housewives, eagerly awaiting the buy one, get one free Christmas sale. Many stores didn’t even wait for the sun to show its face. Waves of shops were open as early as midnight on this day after Thanksgiving.

This day, this phenomenon immediately following our beloved Thanksgiving, is called Black Friday.

Stores are chaotic. Traffic is beyond jammed. Overeager gift buyers with apparently nothing better to do are pitted against each other to see whose spoiled little brat 10-year-old will get the last Wii at Best Buy.

This tradition continues ceaselessly until the Big Day, Dec. 25, when the rewards for all these walking, talking ATM’s are finally reaped, in the form of a 10 second smile on some kid’s face, followed immediately by disdain for their parents for not getting them everything on their list.

I maintain that the only reason the holiday season doesn’t begin in July is because Thanksgiving — blessed Thanksgiving — has stopped it in its tracks. But my friends, a month of Dean Martin’s White Christmas and fat men in red suits is too much.

So who is to blame? There are three holidays in the time period, have any of them led us to this point?

Kwanzaa is out of the question, and Hanukkah may be considered a factor if it weren’t a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish faith — and if we saw menorahs in megamalls instead of Christmas trees.

But Christmas isn’t to blame either.

The Christmas season, the one as defined by the faith that helped to conceive this holiday beast, begins with the first day of advent, around three weeks before Christmas day. And advent, for people who follow the tradition, is not a period in which one drives around the city looking for the best deal on Seven jeans. It’s a set of days to be with family, to reflect either religiously or secularly on those you love, the peace in your world and all of that for which you have to be thankful.

I do not wish to play favorites with religion. I am not saying that those who do not follow the tradition of advent are in the wrong.

These ideals that are supposed to come inherent with the season can be embraced by anyone, of any faith.

Somewhere along the line these principles were marginalized. Somewhere along the line generosity, love and peace became undertones of the holiday season that has grown to represent greed, consumerism and jealousy. This marginalization led to eagerness to buy as soon and as much as possible.

This urge to overspend led to half-off sales, and in competition for the most buyers, stores eventually birthed “Black Friday” and this “holiday season” became nothing more than a wet dream for business owners and greedy little pre-teens.

Bah, humbug.

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