Christmas Fate Yet to Come..
The Holidays are upon us like the Black Death. Shoppers fighting to get the perfect gift so they can cross it off their endless list. Each year the pressure to start Christmas shopping starts earlier. Hershey and Best Buy begin broadcasting their Christmas commercials shortly after Labor Day. Is this the ghost of Christmas to come? It is less about Christ and more about the bottom line and forecasting monthly sales numbers.
Christ has left the Holiday
Society has even taken “Christ” out of Christmas. When working as a Guest Service Representative in the late 90’s I was told by the General Manager to answer the phone “Merry Christmas”. In 2014, I was approached by one of my employees who stated that she did not feel comfortable answering the phone that way, it was offensive to her. I believe we should always be respectful of all cultures and religions and their belief systems at all times not just during the holidays. Have our Traditions been altered to fit a different society? To this day, I find myself stopping and wondering if I am going to offend someone by wishing them a Merry Christmas.
Scrooge may have been onto something. Growing up, I looked forward to waking up on Christmas morning, getting out of my warm bed, and sneaking down to the living room to discover the treasures Santa left under the tree. In fact, At the of age 9 I would going through a trial run several days, sometimes weeks before the day arrived. Just in case Santa might have come early. At that age anything was possible.
Thirty nine years later the only thing known to me is the level of anxiety that I experience at this time of year. The mere thought of driving to the mall, find a parking space, entering a store of stressed shoppers, long lines, and unfriendly store clerks, makes my palms slick with sweat. Thank goodness for Ebay and Amazon. It is as simple as, click, pay, ship and within a day or two your shopping is complete. If you want to spend the extra $3 some sites offer gift wrapping. Problem solved.
Guilty as Charged….
Food is another fond memory I have of the holiday season. Before, During and After Christmas it was days and nights of snacks, cookies, candy, and eggnog. Plus, spiral hams, turkey, Prime Rib and all the side dishes to complete the caloric mutiny. This of course lead to the feeling of over consumption guilt. Most of us consume more calories in a twenty-four hour period than we do in a full week. Food is everywhere. Holiday parties, Office parties, lunch with friends. The reasoning behind our gluttony is, “Christmas only comes once a year”. So loosen the belt, slip on the stretched out sweat pants and settle in. Monday is right around the corner.
Black Friday BloodBath
I might be sounding a bit like the Grinch. Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men is a verse from a Christmas Carol. That is all. Black Friday reminds me of the Gladiators in Rome fighting in the Great Colosseum. Morning news is filled with surveillance videos of people being pushed, punched, trampled, and some fatally injured, just to be first to get a 60′ Flat Screen Television or Xbox 1 gaming system at 60% off. Cyber Monday is the battle I choose where the only life threatening decision I make is which color Fitbit to buy.
The Season of Giving and Taking
For many years I worked as a General Manager for a limited service hotel located less than a mile from a 330 store Outlet Mall. From the first of November to Christmas Eve traffic would be backed up from the mall entrance to the off-ramp of the interstate. Guests would spend hours at the mall and return to the hotel exhausted, arms filled with bags of purchases. The local police department would also increase their parking lot surveillance during this time because the increase in car break ins would skyrocket.
Criminals cashed in on man’s goodwill. The staff at the Front Desk would always remind our guests at check-in to make sure to put all purchases in their car’s trunk or bring them in with them to their rooms. Nothing says Happy Holiday like reporting to the police that your car had been vandalized and the purchases you worked hard for are gone.
It is not all bad. I always drive to my brother’s house and spend the time with my mom and the rest of my sister-in-laws family. It is what I look forward to each year. Minus the heavy holiday traffic on I-81. I realize that society makes Christmas more stressful than it should be. I am guilty as everyone else, in fact as I write this I am wondering how I am going to finish my shopping. It is only 16 days away and I have not purchased a single gift. Dull pain courses through my lower back and across my shoulders, tension at the thought of not finding the perfect gift.
Time is the Perfect Gift
Enjoy not the things we receive but the time we have to give each other. That is the true gift and the meaning of Christmas. Our time on this earth is short and priceless. No commercial ever advertises love. The gift that we carry with us is our love for our life and that is the only thing we should be worried about giving this year. Try to wrap that and slip it under the tree. I promise the magic and wonder is not gone we have become blind to it.