XVII – The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

Here we are rapidly approaching the end of 2018. Where the hell has this year gone? How is it we are almost into the nineteenth year of the 21st century? We’re approaching the “holiday season”, that is Thanksgiving and Christmas (or whatever December holiday you celebrate).

It’s almost that time of the year when people max out their credit cards to take advantage of all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, put bunches of things on layaway, and go all-out “decking the halls” and preparing for the ever-popular ritual of returning unwanted gifts to the respective retail outlets from which they were purchased. What’s my advice for holiday gift giving? Buy your family and others a damned gift card. No wrong sizes, no mismatched colors, no hurt feelings. They can use that card and buy whatever the hell their little heart desires.

Surely you’ve noticed something I call (and maybe the phrase has been coined elsewhere) Christmas creep—the encroachment of Christmas into the dominant space of other festivities. That is, unless you live outside the red-white-and-blue, transcontinental, continuous retail cesspool called the United States. That country where buying exorbitant amounts of Christmas presents, putting yourself into massive amounts of debt just to give the latest and greatest electronic gadget and fad, is cool as fuck, but if you even mention the name “Christmas” to certain atheists, or desire to remember the “true spirit of Christmas”, you’re shunned and looked down upon. God and Jesus are apparently evil in twenty-first century America (for the most part), but Santa Claus? Oh, he’s the bee’s knees.

Anyway, back to the Christmas creep. Once upon a time, in corporate America, in January, you’d have your white sales, and you’d see Valentine’s Day stuff. On 15 February, those items would go on sale, and St Patrick’s Day/Easter appeared. Easter candy would be clearanced on the Monday after Easter, then out would come Memorial Day, then 4th of July, and back to school displays. Around Labor Day, the Halloween costumes would appear. Come the beginning of November, Thanksgiving would be seen. Once Thanksgiving passed, the Black Friday sales and Christmas would attack full-force. On 12/26, returns would be made and the White Sales came, and the cycle repeated itself. That’s how it used to be. The difference now is that Halloween appears in the middle of August, right after school returns. In Early September, you have Hallothanksmas until Black Friday. What in the hell is Hallothanksmas? It’s the conglomeration of Halloween (predominantly costumes and candy), Thanksgiving, in a very tiny section, nearly invisible and eclipsed by…CHRISTMAS. Christmas takes over the Walmart garden center almost before Labor Day. The constant bombardment of layaways, Christmas this, Christmas that (shit, I think Cracker Barrel has even Walmart beat—they usually have Christmas in July already).

Then there’s the so-called Black Friday. Tradition used to be that you’d go stand in line to be ready for the 6am opening of stores to get your bargains. Not anymore! You practically have to forgo Thanksgiving dinner to buy the best deals. Many places are forsaking any type of family get-together, forcing deals on Thanksgiving night. You almost can’t even call it “Black Friday” anymore, as many sales are on the actual Thanksgiving Day. Maybe it should be dubbed “gray Thursday” now. And seriously, is facing the insane crowds even worth it, just to try to buy an iPad for $100, the newest game system for next-to-nothing, or a gigantic TV for $300? Especially when you hear the stories and see the YouTube videos of fistfights at Target, gang shootings at Toys-Я-Us, or Walmart employees being trampled to death by the throngs of people literally breaking down the doors to stampede in for their deals? Honestly, the retail mentality in the United States has gotten completely out of hand. The almighty dollar has become far more important than the family element or even an individual’s sanity. To paraphrase the late George Carlin, people spend “money they don’t have on things they don’t need, maxing out their credit cards and paying 18% interest on something that costs $12.50.” Actually, it’s probably more like 30%, but whatever. The above link goes to a video on YouTube where the exact quote paraphrased above is mentioned, along with his description of the “American Dream”.

As for me, I used to enjoy the holidays. I still enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, but I really have no “Christmas spirit”. Were it not for my kids, I wouldn’t even acknowledge the presence of Christmas on the calendar. The day of 25 December is really just another day for me, honestly. The oversaturation of Christmas in retail, and even on the radio, has worn me out. I guess the occasional sprinkling of Christmas music in December would be fine. I don’t get the idea of, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, the radio overplays Jingle Bells, etc.🤬 Some stations even go nonstop Christmas for the entire month of December. I’m not going to give examples of such radio stations, because I’m not paid to advertise anyone. But they’re out there. I know of two in southern Utah that do it, and there’s a big one in Los Angeles. I’m sure just about every radio market in the country has a nutjob radio station that pollutes the airwaves with 24-hour holiday music in the last 30-45 days of the year. Gross.🤮

The best thing about the fall and winter is the end of the infernal summer heat, the colder nights and earlier sunsets, I think. You might disagree, but that’s okay. Have some hot chocolate, coffee or whatever your drink of choice might be. Go brave the holiday crowds, if you so desire. It’s that time of year. You might just go cozy up by a fire, or sit by your space heater. Whether you dream of a white Christmas, or dread the cold, longing for the summer heat; whether you despise shopping, or love to brave the buying frenzy of the winter holidays, please, above all else, be safe and be well.

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