I'm already tired of Christmas music and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet! I spent less than twenty minutes in the car this morning, ten minutes driving one way, and ten coming back, and heard Jose Feliciano sing “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas” twice. I changed radio stations the first time it came on, and lo and behold, a few minutes later the new station played it as if to say, “Nah nah na nah nah, you can't escape our marketing onslaught! Be a good consumer, do your duty and buy, buy, buy.” Thanksgiving is still four days away.
Is there a war on Christmas? Not by any red-blooded American consumer I know. Are the Humanists or other secular Americans who prefer to separate Santa Claus from Jesus Christ attacking Christmas? What about the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Pastafarians, Scientologists or anyone who doesn't think the Christians should have hijacked the Scandinavian Winter solstice holiday in the first place. Well, maybe, but I think I the real problem it is a semantics problem! It is really a Wart on Christmas! Everybody simply hears what they want to hear, and the “T” just gets dropped off.
For centuries, Christmas has been the main leverage point in maintaining strict order and discipline within whichever version of Christianity happened to rule whatever land you happened to be in. Unless, of course, the Christians hadn't conquered it yet. In those original, primitive societies, they simply measured the end of another solar/terrestrial season and decided to celebrate because they knew good times were just around the corner. Hey, light up a fir tree! Throw some yule logs on the fire and find some chestnuts! Man, that's good eggnog!
But, aaah! The capitalist are coming, and now we have a problem: How do they leverage the birth of a religious icon into massive, profitable sales? The science/art form of retail marketing has developed into a "stuff 'em with theme music until their wallets explode" type of subconscious guilt/redemption syndrome that controls normally sane people for over five weeks of their lives. The unwitting listener will be so happy to prove they are good Christians while listening to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” that they will go into massive credit card debt that won't be paid off until next summer.
The old ways were far more subtle. Nostalgia still seeps over atheists when they hear the Vienna Boys Choir sing “Silent Night.” How about “Ave Maria?” Even Jews think it is a beautiful song. But what were they selling then? Religion, of course! Today, it is Barbie dolls and X-box consoles, bags and bags of useless battery powered toys, cosmetics for socially deprived women, whatever else can be sold immediately after the only truly secular family holiday in America, Thanksgiving. Well, maybe not that secular, especially to the survivors of the Pequot Indians where the Puritans said "Thank You" by slaughtering them and taking the survivors as slaves.
The traditional, well, for my generation at least, major selling day was the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was called “Black Friday,” because for many retailers, it meant they had finally earned enough to show a profit for the year. In other words, they were out of the red ledger column and into the black, hence the name Black Friday. On Black Friday I would take my daughter, load the canoe and head for the Everglades.
Thanksgiving is the one holiday we can all sit down with our families and enjoy the true warmth and love that makes it all worthwhile, and we all do it in our own religious ways. Well, we used to anyway. The Wart on Christmas has infected Thanksgiving and damned if they aren't opening normally closed stores and selling when we should be sitting with our families, giving thanks for what we have.
The Wart on Christmas has proven to be infectious and I don't think we have an antidote. Unless, perhaps, it's earplugs.
Updated 2-16-2014 by the Author