I came home from Colombia in August to nothing but pumpkins and witches. Can we please finish summer first?
Dear Reader: Fair warning, sarcasm and satire ahead.
Like most Americans who grew up with these holiday traditions and who are old enough to recall, there was once some distance between July and the beginning of holiday season. I am weary of being badgered and bludgeoned by holiday cheer long before the swelter of summer- for some now all year- is gone. This is Labor Day weekend, usually reserved for the last of the outdoor barbecues, or whatever late summer activities we enjoyed in the northern hemisphere.
If you happen to be Australian, for example, Christmas IS summertime, and the memories of it very different. It's quite silly, to be fair, to see fake snow-covered trees in the sweltering heat of a Melbourne summer, and heavily-decked out Santas when everyone else is in singlets and flip flops. That, I fear, is our future, so we might as well get used to it. But I digress.
Nearly a hundred years ago some wag decided to start Christmas in July, thinking that it was unique to them. Now it's ubiquitous across the country. Not just sales.
I also remember that September in Colorado used to be cold enough to bring out the boots and coats. The last time I was in Colorado for September I still had the air conditioning set on high. Well into October for that matter.
I had left for Colombia in July. Colombia doesn't suffer from the same compulsive addiction to a half-year holiday season, to a Home Goods which was already one-third full of Halloween. Frankly, in the joy of being in another country, I had blissfully forgotten. I was actually seeking a late-in-summer swimsuit sale, as I would need mine for a trip to Thailand, where I am now. And where there are no pumpkins glowering in the storefronts, thank you.
I walked into my local Home Goods, and the entire front of the store was Halloween. No swimsuits in sight. Which, given Covid and my advancing age, was probably a blessing. Not just for me but for anyone who happened to glance my way. But I digress.
It's not that I've gone Grinch. Okay sort of. More so, for me at least, the Christmas creep has sucked the Christmas right out of the season. In so many places, desperate shopkeepers start playing Christmas music earlier and earlier, hoping it will boost sales. And because so many people are offended by certain music, those radios which feature 24/7 tunes offend the ear by playing Rocking Around the Christmas Tree so many times in an hour one needs to vomit.
By the time December arrives, frankly I am so sick of holiday music imposed on me by every store in town, well. I'm ready for Memorial Day.
Perhaps those stations would be far wiser to investigate, a richer and more diverse offering from the season, which at least would give us some variety. And not start, say, November 1st. Look, maybe if we played that awful music all year long we might ban Christmas altogether. Now there's an idea.
Truth, Christmas as we understand it really didn't get off the ground until the 19th Century:
Santa, or St.Nick, in reality was a dark-skinned Greek or Turk (stories vary), but Coca-Cola coopted him into what we see today: chubby, very white, and commercialized. Of course he is. Far be it for us to admit that the original St. Nick was a deeply generous man of dark complexion. The horror of it all. Besides, as a devout Christian, he gave up all his considerable family inheritance to the poor and needy.
My god that is so much worse. How un-American.
Folks got awfully mad at certain politicians for brandishing guns on their greeting cards. Kindly, people, they were hardly the first:
Even NRA-loving idiots aren't original. America has a fine tradition of exchanging weapons of destruction and firepower over the holiday season. Wars on Christmas and wars about Christmas have been around for a long time:
As with all things, too much of a muchness, which Christmas and the entire holiday season is for America, has ruined what used to be a most delicious time, made ever so much more so by the combination of expectation and having to bloody well WAIT for it.
At least wait for your box of AK-47 ammunition, one for everyone in the family, so that all of you can go out and celebrate properly by threatening mayhem and bloodshed. That is after all, the American way, right Lauren Boebert?
In fact, Thanksgiving, which to my mind badly needs to be eradicated anyway given our genocidal history in this country and the terrible lie that the holiday perpetuates, is already largely forgotten in our headlong rush to the One Big Day.
Why take time to be thankful, when the folks who should really be giving thanks are the remnants of First Nation and American Indians who managed to not get massacred? They owe us a vote of thanks, right, that a few survive so that they can celebrate how many of the bodies of their children were finally discovered buried on the grounds of so-called Christian boarding schools.
Besides, they should be happy to know where their kids' bodies are buried. Lots to be thankful for. Wouldn't you be?
Thanksgiving, such as it is these days, disappears quickly because the day AFTER Christmas is an even bigger payday holiday than the day itself. Stores count on making more money on returns because disappointed recipients use their returns as down payments on more expensive items.
Besides, money and profit are the only things that matter. Right? Peace on earth, good will to men. How old hat.
Why bother to address all the costs of returns, the pollution that creates, the immense pressure on the world and its environment that so many brand new, very high-end items end up in landfills because DEAR GOD no American would purchase a multi-thousand-dollar Burberry coat that some shmuck had already tried on.
For years when I traveled I would pick up my Christmas gifts beginning in January. Places like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam offered unique spices and items which became the great talismans of my journeys around the world, offered with real pleasure to my friends on Christmas morning. I gather gifts all the time. Being in countries like this allowed me, when I had a stash cabinet, to stock up during the year and keep me out of the big stores and dangerous crowds on Black Friday.
Do I really have to address that day? All those friendly people willing to commit murder over the last toy on the shelf?
Black Friday used to be that one day after Santa showed up on the Macy's parade where Mom shopped, Dad watched football and the stores threw open their doors to the season and the shoppers. Again, this is generational, which I heartily admit. All that was also generated to get us to buy stuff.
Worked too. To the extreme.
Black Friday now pops up half the year, feels like. While I am no fan of the headlong rush, tenting on sidewalks and the fights over boxes in the store (want to see the REAL face of America?) at least it was just one day, and we were done with it. Now it's a viewing spectacle:
Well hell. If we keep doing that perhaps we can solve part of the population problem, at least among those rich enough to get into a bloody battle over a multi-thousand-dollar wide screen.
I wonder if gun stores have the same kinds of crowds. After Biden's speech the other night, my guess is that the stores are already overcrowded. Happy Holidays, MAGA fans.
I went to one Black Friday sale. Bought a video camera. Never used it. Still feel like an idiot. Was an idiot. Still am, but that's beside the point.
Well Merry Christmas to you too, Boo-Boo, and let's be thankful that we got out of the store with only one knife in our ribs.
I am indeed a fan of those who point out that the real holiday season is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial time frame, largely driven by the original pagan acknowledgement that the long, dark nights of winter inspire fear. The turn of the season towards shorter days meant that tribes had made it through the dark, and it was a celebration. Now people have far more to worry about just getting out the damned store alive.
I love the idea that a certain time of year has now begun, at least among more enlightened minds, to acknowledge the rich traditions and spirited celebrations which deserve to be enjoyed. Call me crazy (okay you'd be right).
Those traditionalists who are far more rigid than I am find that changing the seasonal term to holidays or the festive season threatens their interpretation that this time of year belongs only to Christians. Better writers than I have taken that on. Suffice it to say I most emphatically disagree.
I only use the term Christmas for this time of year because I grew up with it. That said, my world is quite big enough to stuff Kwanzaa, St. Lucia's Day and all the rest in. Hell, my PANTS are big enough to stuff all those in.
The more, the merrier, right? That's how I see it. And it's how I feel it. Okay, as long as all the celebrants aren't packing. These days that's wishful thinking. After all, Santa comes to town in a panzer:
I prefer to feel the season, not have it shoved down my throat, feeling as though I HAVE to go out and invest money I don't currently believe in buying gifts that others may or may not like, causing environmental havoc and much worse. That I makes me terribly un-American, which is just one reason I am considering a move to another country.
But lemme end on a high note, pardon the pun.
As with all of us, some changes offend, others expand us. Part of me misses the richness of holiday music, complete with all the non-secular hymns which are so beautiful in their passion. They do not speak to me in the religious sense. However, there are few pieces of music which are as soaring as Handel's Messiah, Hallelujah Chorus.
As with much music drawn from someone's deepest passion, the music speaks to my heart. Which is why the removal of all non-secular music from the popular radio stations is unfortunate. The way I see it, and I may be wrong, why can't we include more music from other celebrations? It's all relevant, all passionate, and all of it speaks to the extraordinary beauty of the human heart in celebration.
I am most moved by Chip Davis' exuberant renditions of traditional carols, which cause me to dance in my stockinged feet (to the deep embarrassment of my neighbors). To hell with them. I'm happier than Snoopy getting his dinner bowl and an extra bone.
But again, that's just me. When I carted all my seasonal stuff to be sold off at the consignment store, I keep all my Mannheim Steamroller. I don't have a CD player any more but I can still read the labels.
Over here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I am off to see the tigers for the day. I am sure some armchair quarterback will bark at me about that. At least I am spared the incoming onslaught of Christmas crap that is hot on the heels of Halloween, likely already being loaded onto the shelves before Labor Day weekend is over with.
I am done with those aspects of the holiday season. Thank god my TV isn't hooked up or I'd have to suffer through Hallmark Christmas movies. I'll stick to my Muppets Christmas Carol, my Mannheim Steamroller, my flashmob Hallelujah Chorus and hide from the rest of the world busily unpacking their assault rifles.
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