Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Boycott Christma$$$

As the year barrels to a close and the second decade of the twenty-first century rears its ugly head above the horizon, everyone should become dimly aware of the approaching holidays. Thanksgiving is a little more than three weeks away, and Christmas a bit more than seven weeks off. So, we should be hearing more about Thanksgiving, right? Not so fast, because I just saw my first television commercial for the Christmas holiday, and I haven't heard squat about Thanksgiving.

Walgreen's and Costco have had some of their Christmas merchandise out on display for weeks now, and I can't tell you how jolting and disorienting it is to see fully decorated Christmas trees right after coming in from near 100-degree temps outside. But I voluntarily walked into both of those fine establishments and I can walk back out again if I want to. When advertisers start showing their Christmas commercials on television, that is more of an invasion of privacy. By bringing their sales harangues uninvited into my living room and dumping them in my lap, they are showing an aggressiveness and pushiness that does not go unchallenged.

And I really wouldn't care if they started in with the Yuletide commercials right after Thanksgiving, the usual start of the holiday shopping madness, because that's when I really curtail my television viewing. I seriously get aggravated when I see the same damned annoying commercial 50 times in the space of a half-hour. And Christmas music can be very nice when it's not used as background music for hordes of greed-crazed children going into grand-mal seizures if they don't get whatever overpriced piece-of-crap gift the advertisers tell them they have to have this year, or their Christmas will be a complete failure.

There are plenty of things about Christmas that I like, such as the cooler weather, the house decorations (although that can get really out of control), going to Christmas parties with friends, and the aforementioned Christmas music. XM Radio in particular has a wonderful audio channel called "Classical Christmas" that they broadcast only during the holidays, and it showcases incredible holiday music that you rarely hear anywhere. There are some really enjoyable holiday movies on TV, and one of my favorites is "White Christmas" starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye (more about it in a future blog). I love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert, strange as that may sound. And there's just something so damned reassuring and comforting about "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It's like a big warm blanket made up of your childhood memories that just wraps around you and makes you feel like a kid again. That kind of stuff is priceless.

I've started my own Christmas traditions, and one of them is to boycott the store who shows the first Christmas commercial on TV. Last year that honor went to Wal-Mart, and this year it goes to Kohl's department stores. So, suck it Kohl's, Merry Damned Christmas to you. Because of your greediness and self-serving rush to shove your name into everyone's face so early on in the season, you won't be seeing me or my money in any of your stores. It's called voting with your wallet, and my wallet does not vote for Kohl's.

Obviously the kind of money-grubbing Christmas season the advertisers are trying to force us into experiencing comes from a place of greed and avarice. We're going to hear so much of the upcoming shopping season being a barometer of the success or failure of all the economic stimulus efforts that have been and are being done. And it's really a shame to cast Christmas in that light, because it just turns the holidays into more of a mad, delirious shopping spree/death march than usual, leaving everyone tired, demoralized and deeper in debt. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The choice really comes down to whether you will sit back and passively accept the edicts and demands of the business world when it comes to celebrating Christmas the way they want you to, or actively reject the stifling consumerism that chokes all the joy out of the season. I choose the latter, and this year as last year I'm backing away from the shopping and spending and gift-giving hysteria that used to make me fear this time of year. It's really simple and easy - all the power is in your hands. I'm going to start by telling my friends to please not buy me anything. I love my friends and appreciate their generosity, but I am very fortunate to have more "stuff" than I need. I would really love it if they kept their money and either spent it on themselves or their pets, or donate it to a charity of their choice, and Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue is always my first choice when it comes to worthy charities. For me, what I want the most is to spend time with my friends, enjoy their company and their good humor with a wonderful meal or a bottle of wine, and just get back to the way Christmas should be celebrated - as a time for gathering-together in friendship and holiday spirit.

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