When did it happen?
When did Christmas change from a season of joy and happiness to a time of fear and loathing? Every day, I watch news reports of shopping mall shootings, department store riots over a new Air-Jordan release, and don’t get me started on the Black Friday stampedes that make running with the bulls in Pamplona look like sissy stuff. These people have lost their F-ing minds.
When your child unwraps that hard fought present, the one you yanked from the grip of a pepper spraying soccer mom at the clearance table, you shed a tear. That’s because the Tickle Me Elmo doll reeks of pepper spray and desperation. Nothing says Christmas like hand to hand combat in the toy store.
Now, this isn’t meant to be one of those “Reason for the Season” rants. But, why does a date on a calendar provide us an excuse to act like a Rhesus Monkey on a ten-day meth run? People set up encampments outside of big box stores to be the first in line to get a discounted flat screen television, one they don’t even need. Cut in line on one of these guys and they’ll drop you like the A&E network drops a Duck Dynasty cast member.
I blame Steve Jobs. Well, not him specifically, but the culture that demands a new, improved product every year that we can’t live without is driving us to the breaking point. It’s that “You don’t love me unless you give me that diamond encrusted what-cha-ma-call-it,” or the “All my friends have a floppy-flim-flam.” Anxiety. It’s anxiety from worrying about what to get for the people on your Christmas list, and what if it’s not good enough, or if they don’t like it, or if they think it’s “so last season.”
I don’t enjoy hunting for a parking space a mile and a half away from the shopping mall entrance, and I don’t particularly like getting felt up in the packed aisle of a gourmet kitchen store. Then there are the zombie walkers. You know, the people that creep along the walkways, zigging and zagging, stopping abruptly and oblivious to your need to get around them. They are often found in packs, four and five wide, simply to annoy you and prolong your shopping experience.
I’d be willing to bet Xanax prescriptions increase this time of year to cope with the crowds, or my personal avoidance method – online shopping. No fuss, no muss, but hardly festive.
Where did the joy and happiness go? Then, I see a kid looking at Christmas lights with an expression of pure awe and realize it’s still there, hidden under all the noise and bustle and pushing. The kid sees it because he’s not all caught up in the hype and tension we inject into the season. The rest of us need to take a lesson from the kid. Back away from the clearance table, and chill the F out. Just chill.
Go take a walk with your kids, or your dogs and simply enjoy the people and the things around you.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! Chill!