The War On Christmas

In a Nauseous Array of Red, Green and Gold; A Hypnotizing Vortex of Wanton Consumption

Christmas in the US doesn’t come but once-a-year. It takes the better part of four months. As early as September, holiday paraphernalia appears in store windows In fact, any month ending in  –ber (and thus suggesting cold weather) becomes fair game for marketeers out to convince consumers to spend as much money as possible, as fast as possible.

Even in states that lack the desired winter climate, the markets have adapted remarkably. Who knew that the earth’s precious resources are best directed at producing apple-cinnamon sunscreen and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer string-bikinis.

As September becomes October, the market becomes schizophrenic, not knowing whether its Christmas or Halloween.  Nevertheless, Christmas soon wins out and decorations invade supermarkets and holiday sales flash – in a nauseous array of red, green and gold on every television, billboard, and website – turning into a hypnotizing vortex of wanton consumption.

Once Thanksgiving is over, normality comes to an abrupt halt. From the moment the stores re-open on Friday morning, normal people become pale-faced, sleep-deprived zombies, programmed by some unseen force to buy everything in sight, even if it means punching a fellow shopper to get the last X-Box.

This is the American “competitive spirit” at its purest – in this case, making sure that your kids have the bigger, newer, and more expensive toys. You know, than the other kids.  And if you were too lazy to start shopping in August, well, then you will die lonely and unloved, but only after being ridiculed to your grave for closet Socialism. Which is of course only one step shy of being a Communist, which might as well be a terrorist. As we were told after 9/11, shopping is patriotic.

During December, shopping mall parking lots become more dangerous than Cambodia in the 1970s, as over-worked single parents try to do all that shopping in a mere three weeks. Brawls break out over the last remaining parking spaces, and if your lucky enough to avoid a Christmassy punch in the face, you are likely to be hit by a driver so focused on finding that last spot, they didn’t see you on the crosswalk.

As the month drags on, people become more and more stressed and detached from reality, and mothers quietly confess, with shaky voices, that they still have so much shopping to do. The fear of disappointment is nearly overwhelming. Gift-giving has become just another anxiety ridden obligation. That something intended as a kindness could cause such anxiety seems paradoxical, but the angst is justified by the face-lifted blonds on CNN reporting how consumer confidence is up yet again this holiday season.

As December unravels, the pace intensifies, and by the time the 25th arrives, the sudden absence of chaos is so eerie, and the letdown of the day itself so great, that depression sets in. With all that shopping, with all that hard work, happiness wasn’t for sale along the way.  Hardly surprising that US suicides peak each year at Christmas.

So if you’re in the US this holiday season, stock up on food and alcohol, invite some friends over and hole up by the fireside until the madness subsides.

Cause you can’t come out on the 26th either – this is the second biggest shopping day of the year next to Black Friday (after Thanksgiving), when everyone rushes back to the mall to return the gifts they deemed unworthy and take of advantage of those irresistible ‘After-Christmas Sales.’ Christmas day itself was just a moment of suspended animation when frustrated consumers are forced to spend a few long hours with those inescapable “loved ones,” while they wait impatiently for stores to open again the next day.

But never fear: In a few short months this will all start all over again. And this time, the shopping season will start a little earlier, the advertisements will be a little flashier, and last year’s disillusionment will have been forgotten.  In America, the holiday spirit has been lost somewhere along the way to the cashier at Wal-Mart.

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