It’s that time of year again. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about … the holidays. Some see it as the song claims “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” … But others among us are just left wondering.
First it’s the sugary shock of Halloween. Then it’s surviving the Thanksgiving glutton-fest. Followed by a tsunami of high-octane shopping you can’t afford, partying, last minute gift buying, a morning of exchanging gifts you don’t need, a mad rush to return the gifts you don’t want, more shopping and finally a drunken evening, ending with new year’s resolutions and false resolve to quit your shameful and gluttonous behavior as soon as the thunder in your head subsides. Why we do these things I’ll never understand. People seem to be stressed to the gills during this time of year, yet backing off a tad doesn’t occur to us. Rather, we ramp it up.
The downhill slide into grotesque commercialism now begins with Halloween, where the nation’s lawns are covered with cheap, inflatable witches and Pixar characters, and the bushes are draped in a billion yards of that fake spider web crap. Your yard doesn’t look “festive,” it looks like the Dollar Store threw up on it. Candy companies pump out so much individually wrapped diabetic delicacies I’m thinkin’ they may be in cahoots with the drug companies to ensure their stockholders of a large enough pool of sweet addicted insulin users to keep them on easy street. It should be noted that some of that candy will last a thousand years without refrigeration, which survivalist types may find useful.
You’ve barely recovered from that when Thanksgiving slams into you.
Thanksgiving marks the celebration of undocumented Puritans sneaking into America from across the ocean without passports or work visas. (For you Republicans, that means ya’ll are the original illegal aliens – yep, I said it, your Irish grandmother is a line-jumper.) The folks actually born here, the Native Americans, were disappointed that the lazy Puritans refused to take low paying farm jobs, so instead gave them to Latinos. And fortunately for the backward, starving Puritans, Squanto, the Patuxet Indian chief, instructed his people to host the first Thanksgiving so, in his words, “These dumb bastards don’t die.”
The modern Thanksgiving is made more intolerable by the plague of relatives that settle like locusts upon your dinner table who won’t leave, won’t shut up, and who drink up all your good stuff. As if this country isn’t fat enough, Thanksgiving spreads get larger and more elaborate every year. So let’s talk turkey. More specifically, the size of turkeys. Oh-Ma-Gawd, have you seen those sum bitches? They are enormous. Turkeys, generally speaking, are large birds, but unless nesting in the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor, they don’t normally grow to the size of Volkswagens in the wild. The modern Thanksgiving turkey is no longer the same shape as a real turkey, and they’re so damn big the poor, sex-starved bastards can’t breed amongst themselves. They have to be artificially inseminated – I can’t begin to imagine that job. Some poor dude at the Butterball plant, lying on a stained, worn mattress, dressed in a threadbare turkey outfit whispering, “C’mon, show daddy your tail feathers, let’s get this over with.” Simply disturbing.
After the binge-purge Thanksgiving debacle, we immediately jump into the “Get rid of what little money you have left Spend-a-Thon,” which makes Wall Street greed look thrifty. I am referring to the appropriately named “Empty Your Wallet Black Friday” with a side of “I Can’t Find My Car in the Parking-Lot Weekend,” only to be topped by “Cyber Buying Hell Monday.”
After that it’s only a short sleigh ride into the rough and tumble competition between- baby Jesus, serial home invasions by the Kringle Claus, Chanukah — the celebration of the burning of fossil fuels, Kwanza — with its dashiki fashion competition — or my favorite, Festivus For the Rest of Us.
Festivus includes a dinner, an unadorned Festivus pole, the “Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength” and the labeling of easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles” – which the Catholic Church does as well, but being simple folk, just calls them miracles. (The biggest whopper being the one about a single, pregnant Jewish girl named Mary who is really sticking to her story.) All these celebrations have their merits, but the Jews win this one hands down, ‘cuz they up the ante with eight freakin’ days of presents. Are we done yet? Hell no. There is another shopping frenzy the day after Christmas where all the crap you didn’t already buy is sold to you at fictitiously low prices. And we finally wrap things up by starting the New Year with a stunningly spectacular hangover, and day of apologizing to co-workers for throwing up in Roy’s desk drawer at the office party. Then on January 1st please pick three or four completely unattainable New Year’s resolutions that you have no intention of sticking with. It’s absofuckinlutely exhausting.
I really don’t think Jesus died for our sins, but I’d wager that he would die from embarrassment about how his birthday is being celebrated. The Prince of Peace has become the Master of Merchandising, and he’s in the running for the Retailer of the Year award.
And the merchants have you well primed, as they’ve had their store shelves stocked with Christmas holiday items since June. Of course everything is on “sale.” That doesn’t mean it’s “on sale for less money”– it just means it’s “for sale.” You won’t save a dime; that cheap, Chinese, combo color printer/waffle-maker sells for the very same price year round. Why your head explodes when you see a little red tag with the word “sale” scrawled in black sharpie on it defies logic. The purchase of a “sale” item simply means you are another credit card receipt closer to bankruptcy.
Here is a real life example. A person I won’t name (my wife) mentioned to a stupid person (moi) that there was a gift item (silly girly stuff-not something cool like a chainsaw) at Macy’s that she might like. Since I haven’t bought her anything nice in a long time (twenty or thirty years), I thought it would be magnanimous (big-ass word meaning nice) to take her to Macy’s, and purchase it for her. The gift item was $59.00 (over-priced by a factor of three) and it was available at that special (ridiculous) price only if we purchased one, un-named designer (Estee Lauder) fragrance item. No problem. Pick an inexpensive fragrance item and we’re good to go. So the unnamed giftee (my wife) chose three fragrant soaps. The beyond stupid, unnamed gifter (yours truly) thought this was a perfect and inexpensive solution. So, in a casual (but authoritative) voice, the unnamed idiot (me) told the sales girl (or guy, we weren’t quite sure) “ring that sucker up.” Well the fifty nine dollar gift item immediately and mysteriously turned into a one hundred and eight dollar item.
In hindsight I suppose it was my fault. The announcement over the loudspeaker should have clued me in: “Welcome shoppers and holiday greetings, – Attention fragrance department, there is an imbecile and his very attractive wife headed your way; take that dumb bastard for all he’s worth.”
As they say, Christmas saw me coming.
After the persons in question (us) walked away from the fragrance department (retail disemboweling station), the stupid person (you do know who this is by now, don’t you?) quietly asked the giftee (my wife), “how can three goddamned soaps cost forty eight damn dollars?” She looked lovingly into the simple-minded man’s eyes and whispered, “Oh honey, that’s just the 8% tax.” The dull-witted idiot slowly nodded in agreement, smiled and muttered … “Merry Christmas, dear.”