Monday, December 10, 2007

Baaa Humbug

I finished gift shopping today, in a blizzard of spending at my computer. It just kept going on and on. I sit here navigating through sites, getting snarled up in accounts, having long cozy talks with little girls in customer service.
The shopping season has been a race and a slog this year.

The marketers have developed more power. I am no longer merely enticed, but pressed and forced into consumer activities. This is done by automatically renewing discount cards, by baiting special offers that are going to lure you into annual fees of some kind, and all written in confusionese. I used to be a match for them but not anymore. Christmas shopping now feels the way it used to when closing on a house: just let me know how much you're going to rob me of and leave me a bit in the end. Maybe it's my age; but I'm ending the shopping feeling "fleeced."

I have also been herded into the Christmas specials on TV. The ads and newspaper reviews are perfectly synchronized to make me watch. Christmas stories show attractive people, mainly of the Caucasian persuasion, in disadvantaged situations--orphaned alcoholic widowers afflicted with virtue and near poverty-- who find love and prosperity through the mediation of angels or ghosts. There's nothing else on to watch, and of course I must watch!
Even the book group selection enchains one in fantasy: "The Redbird Christmas" a neo-Victorian tale about a cancer patient who finds community and miracles by moving to Alabama.

Years ago a Roman Catholic priest remarked to me, "Do what you want but call it something else! Call it 'Folk-mas,' call it 'Gift-mas,' Just please stop calling it 'Christmas'!" If I were in my right mind at the moment, I would call it "Advent."



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