Is it me, or did the big Christmas push start really early this year?
Maybe I’m just noticing it more. The past few year I’ve been otherwise occupied (grad school takes a lot of mental energy), so maybe this is the first year in a while that I’ve been able to pay attention. Working retail may have also exacerbated things. The lit trees and lawn ornaments are hard to ignore when they start cropping up at the end of October. And don’t even get me started on Christmas music.
I also tend to be fairly insulated from “typical” pop culture; most of my news and entertainment comes from online sources, and it’s much easier to see only what you want to see on the Internet (whether or not that’s a good thing, while important, is a different discussion). But my girlfriend and I have been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which ends up being a whopping one hour of television a week. But last week’s episode, which still aired before Thanksgiving, let me remind you, was so chock full of overly saccharine and downright condescending Christmas and Black Friday ads, we almost felt like cutting our losses and watching the episode online the next day.
Which brings us to Black Friday, that annual orgy of consumerism which has metastasized and is now encroaching on the Thursday of Thanksgiving itself. Did you know that Walmart started their Black Friday sales at 6pm on Thanksgiving itself? Given how long the lines tend to get, and the fact that the doors open at prime dinnertime, you’d effectively have to spend your Thanksgiving camping out, heating potted meat over a sterno can for “dinner.” Or spam; take your pick. The metaphor still works.
When did this start? When did we become unsatisfied with holidays staying in their respective parts of the calendar, in a nice, temporal chain? And am I alone in being annoyed–nay, enraged–by this trend?
I hope not, because it’s already making me sick of the season. I just want it to be over, so that the carols and commercials and pressure to “BUY STUFFS NAO” goes away. I don’t want to be told I need to show my love or display my self-worth by spending money I don’t have. In fact, being guilted into something generally has the opposite effect in the long run. Which is sad, as this time of year can be a great time to spend with friend and family, to reconnect and take joy in those interpersonal relationships that are often all too fleeting.
Bah humbug, I guess.
Sadder is when you look at the other side of this equation: the people doing the shopping. stretched thinner and thinner in a bad economy, people really need good deals on things in order to keep up the level of merriment that they are used to and still keep in some semblance of a budget. So they do insane, stupid, desperate things because they really want to give their kid something they want but normally can’t afford. This is an opportunity to not have to manage expectations to better match reality. And all it costs you is a few hours of family time, or a nasty cold from standing outside in the freezing weather, or, you know, your life because some idiots are so desperate that they stampede you. Little things.
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