The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

CHRISTMAS BLUES: Everyone bemoans the commercialization of Christmas but no one does anything about it, as Mark Twain famously didn’t say. He was talking about the weather, which is another pet peeve altogether, but one that will have to wait for another day. We’re talking Christmas today. I started asking myself why not just a couple of minutes ago, after checking the balance on my credit cards. Checking the balance on your credit cards during the Christmas shopping season is almost always a bad idea, as it leads to hypertension, chest pain, constipation, and the inexorable conclusion that you can’t afford Christmas anymore.

Once upon a time Christmas was commercial but affordable, but those days are one with Nineveh and Tyre these days. Every year the holiday gets more and more commercial, a little more crass, a little more tense, until the whole point of the day is lost amid the saccharine kitsch of Santa, snowmen, and reindeer. Few people pay any real attention to the real point of the day, and those few religious references that make it through seem less a celebration of the Incarnation than another excuse to raid the collective wallet yet again. The political and social Right in this country spends a lot of time and energy denouncing the Left’s ongoing war on Christmas, and does so without apparently noticing that the never-ending commercialization has caused the day to lose much of the very theological significance the Left so strenuously objects to. That, of course, does not prevent both sides of the question from debating the matter endlessly, so in the interests of preserving everyone’s sanity and my financial health, let me make a suggestion: what this country really needs is a moratorium on Christmas.

I know that a good many of you Scrooges out there just want to ban the day outright, but I think that’s going a little too far. When I say a moratorium, I mean just that: a break in the holiday hoopla. Instead of having Christmas every year, let’s have a full-blown commercial Christmas every five years or so. This will us all a psychic break and a chance to restore our finances before the next big holiday season rolls around. And it will be great for the kids as well. Imagine the pent-up excitement you see every year at this time magnified five times; the kids’ excitement will be close to unbearable and the release on Christmas morning will be orgasmic in its intensity.

With five years between orgies of consumer spending, the toy companies can invest a truly obscene amount of money on testing and retesting their products so that they will be nothing less than perfect on the great day (batteries are included and no assembly required ever), and, naturally enough, with five years to save the necessary funds parents can buy more toys for their 2.7 kids, who will only require this massive infusion of disposable income twice instead of every year; when the kids hit fifteen you can buy them clothes. They won’t wear the clothes, of course; because no matter what you buy them the kids won’t wear the clothes to school to save their lives—Mom, those clothes are so yesterday, they’ll whine, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

I expect that there will no little resistance to this idea, if only because of the power of inertia; at this juncture, people are used to the idea of Christmas coming every year. The retailers, of course, will object vigorously to any attempt to wean them away from their annual revenue fix, but, to paraphrase the great Dr. Johnson, we should not entrust great public enterprises to men whose primary motive is private profit. America needs a moratorium from Yuletide commercialization; permitting those who profit the most from that commercialization to stand in the way of this project is foolishness of a very high order. The moral and spiritual needs of the many outweigh the petty grubbing for pelf these hucksters would convince us is the true meaning of the day.

And then there are those parents too weak to withstand the incessant and inevitable whining of their progeny at the outset of the moratorium and who will try to obtain toys under a number of different ruses, such as birthday or Hanukah gifts. Clearly, the law will have to deal with these miscreants severely, lest disrespect for the law become rampant, and social and moral chaos ensue. For the first offense, the parents shall have to pay a fine equal to the monetary value of the toys, plus punitive damages. For the second offense, armed guards shall remove the whining child from the parents’ household, smear the bellowing little brat with fish offal, and feed the greedy little whelp to the sharks. When harsh measures are called for, society should not shrink from its duty, and in these cases the harsher the measure the better off we will all be in the long run.

For the vast majority of Americans who will obey the law because they are law-abiding citizens who know what’s good for them, the five years without the commercial horror we now call Christmas will be a time of peace and goodwill towards men, wherein they can join together with family and friends, go to church, and honor the true meaning of Christmas without having that meaning drowned out by the constant December screeching to buy, buy, buy.

UPDATE: Your objections keep rolling in, just as I knew they would. A few of my fellow red staters want to know what kind of liberal pinko commie bastard I am, trying to ban Christmas. Well, I am not a liberal pinko commie bastard; I am a Republican who voted for Bush twice, supports the war in Iraq, and thinks that Bush has not cut taxes enough. So I am not trying to ban Christmas or interfere with anyone’ religious observance of the day; I do not nor would I ever support something that would limit anyone’s religious freedom, unless, of course, someone was advocating human sacrifice, and then it would depend on who was being sacrificed. If it’s almost any of my relatives or the guy who lives across the street with the two very large and very belligerent German shepherds, then I am all for having someone sacrifice them to the god or goddess of their choosing, the more painfully the better. It’s just that I don’t think that the annual Christmas sales at Wal-mart qualify as a religious observance, although I know for some people it might.

But just for the sake of argument, you understand, let’s say that the Christmas moratorium doesn’t make through the new Congress. What then, you ask? How then to deal with the commercialization of Christmas? Look, it is clear to anyone with half a brain and most Democrats that the true meaning of Christmas gets lost in the sustained barrage of commercials because the retailers can count on Christmas always occurring on December 25th. Making Christmas a moveable feast, as Easter is, might help, but like Easter, the days that Christmas would fall on would be predictable from one year to the next. To prevent this from happening, the Congress and the President should appoint a bipartisan commission whose sole task would be to determine what day Christmas would fall on in any given year, and then, just to maintain the element of surprise, the commission should not release the date until a week before Christmas actually happens. In this way the big retailers wouldn’t know when to start their marketing blitzes until the very last minute and the rest of us wouldn’t have to listen to Christmas related ads from Labor Day to Christmas Eve. Bookies could make a fortune taking bets on when Christmas would occur from year to year, and on occasion we’d all get a special treat, like Christmas and the Fourth of July happening on the same day. We could have Santa Claus, fireworks, and nice weather all at the same time. I see no logical reason why Australians should enjoy Christmas at the beach while Americans freeze their backsides off lying about how much we love a white Christmas. Enough of this nonsense, I say, and let’s take Christmas away from the crass and the greedy and give it back to the people! Free Christmas! Viva la feliz navidad libre!
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