Christmas, The other Big C

Another Holiday Season is here;”the most wonderful time of the year”!…or maybe not. As soon as Halloween ends, the countdown to Christmas begins; it seems like it’s starting sooner as the years pass. Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle and becomes overshadowed by Christmas. Black Friday is pretty much an official shopping holiday. Those red buckets from the Salvation Army have already crept up outside of the grocery stores; with that damn bell attached.  Black Friday ads have been out since the first week of November. I even saw one ad saying that their Pre-Black Friday prices were the lowest ever. Pre-Black Friday?? Lowest prices ever?? Really?? Get the hell outta here!! The advertisers are taking advantage of our short memories and our even shorter attention spans; and we’re letting them.  Oh, and of course the Christmas music has started playing on 100.3; thank God that the other stations don’t start until after Thanksgiving. Whatever happened to celebrating one holiday at a time?? There’s not nearly as much attention and promotion given to Thanksgiving as there is to Christmas. Many stores are open on Thanksgiving in order to attract shoppers who are determined to empty their wallets, not long after they’ve filled their bellies with Thanksgiving dinner. Several stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, but you can bet that they’ll be open at the butt crack of dawn–or earlier–on Black Friday. Black Friday is serious business; people are not playing when it comes to getting the goods for less. Video clips of dedicated consumers, who post up outside of stores overnight, are shown yearly on the local news.

Christmas is commercialized chaos, and it has been out of control for a long time. Shopping in a store during the holiday season–especially during those last few weeks leading up to the other Big C–can be torture. Thank God for online shopping; it has saved me from getting jail time—and my fragile sanity. Having the choice to browse, research and buy something all while sippin’–and re-filling—my glass of wine, is priceless to this creature of convenience.

Let me preface this story by saying that I AM NOT a morning person! In my perfect world, everyday would start no earlier than 10am! A few years back, my daughter wanted a Nintendo DSi for Christmas. I found out that the DSi would be on sale at Walmart on Black Friday and that they were opening at 5am in-store and online. As a devoted mother, I was determined to get this damn DSi for my daughter so, on Black Friday–after a Thanksgiving day filled with an abundance of eats and likely too many drinks— I woke up in time to get online right before 5 am. At 4:59 am I logged onto Walmart.com and started filling my cart with the DSi, some games and accessories. When I clicked on “checkout”, a message popped up saying “Out of Stock”. I thought to myself, you’ve got to be kidding me!! WTF!! So after a few more minutes of cursing, I convinced my hubby to go with me to Walmart. When we got there and saw the amusement park line set-up that they had going on, I almost said, “fuck it”, but the do or die, devoted mother in me was determined to make sure that my baby had her DSi–at the sale price! We waited almost an hour to get into the store.

Once we were inside of the store, we went to the electronics department and found ourselves in a line where we would eventually receive a ticket with a number on it; with the number ticket we would then get into a second line. Really?? A line just to get a number??!! While waiting in the number line, we were pushed and shoved by the thick crowd of shoppers. The final straw came when we saw two ladies on the verge of brawling after one mistakenly rear ended the other lady’s ankle with her shopping cart. We quickly left, and went and got some breakfast. I bit the bullet and went ahead and paid full price($30 more) for that damn DSi. Eventually, it was broken twice before I realized that my money and time were wasted.

Despite my bitchin’, I do enjoy many things about the Christmas holiday such as, the vacation time, the decorations, the music and the celebrations with family and friends. Christmas has a magical way of releasing a contagious spirit of giving. People who you see as assholes during the previous months, turn into humble and loving individuals. There’s pressure to participate in activities like Secret Santa, which is fun, but my financial responsibilities make it hard for me to be hype about adding— “a gift that costs no more than x amount of dollars”– to my shopping list. If I decline to participate in Secret Santa, I run the risk of looking like one of the office scrooges, getting the side-eye for not “being in the Christmas spirit”. And what about when you find out that someone has thoughtfully bought you a gift, but you haven’t bought them anything and you didn’t plan on buying them anything until after you found out about their gifts for you or your kids. We get so bent on Christmas lists that we forget or ignore, that Jesus is the reason for this season. Pumping up man-made Christmas symbols like Santa Claus has contributed to our selective memory loss. When my daughter was 8, she figured out that Santa wasn’t real. I was relieved that she finally knew the truth–family and friends bust their asses so that she can have her Christmas swag. My son is already showing signs that he doesn’t really believe in Santa and that’s fine with me.

The shopping hangover that hits your bank account once those January bills come due is fierce and unforgiving! As Thanksgiving approaches,—you know, that phantom holiday where we’re supposed to be grateful for any and everything— I’m especially thankful for my, “I’m over it” attitude. I’m no longer allowing myself to feel stressed by the Christmas craziness!

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