Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just Call Me Ebenezer Scrooge

It is that time of year again.  People were outside this past weekend putting up Christmas lights.  I see holiday displays everywhere and Sirius radio has multiple stations playing 24/7 Christmas music.  Have I mentioned that I haven’t even fried my Thanksgiving turkey yet?  It does really seem that we start "celebrating" Christmas earlier and earlier every year.  Not only that but we have started to ruin the holiday season all together.  I say this knowing I sound like people of our grandparent's generation and it generally sounds like I am being a scrooge.  However, if you give me a few minutes of your time, maybe I can convince you that I am right.

In the last two weeks I have read about retailers, whom over the last decade have seemingly opened black Friday shopping earlier and earlier in the AM, actually opening on Thanksgiving night to start the official holiday shopping spree.  The claim is that their customer feedback is telling them that they want to be able to shop after dinner on Thanksgiving.  I am sure that it has nothing to do with plummeting sales over the last 3 shopping seasons.  I am also not convinced that opening their stores, paying employees and covering operating costs will be a net gain for them but as long as they get more gross sales it will look good to shareholders.

I have also come across more and more of these perfect looking artificial Christmas trees.  They are beyond perfect.  They are the shape, color and brightness of every great picture and painting we ever saw growing up.  They also come with the lights and even garland already on them.  These are a far cry from the originals that looked as real as the cell phone towers that we see on the side of highways that look like giant pine trees.  Better yet, you can get these trees for only $30 or $40 more than a real one and they last a whole lot longer. 

I am not a very religious person.  Even so, I do find it troublesome that so little of the Christmas holiday has become about the true meaning of the day.  I do sometimes feel hypocritical about my lack of religion but I think that even without my affinity towards that aspect of all of the religious holidays, I have always and continue to make them about friends and family.  This is where I think that the commercialization of the holidays has caused us to lose our way.

My childhood memories are filled with family times during the holidays.  This includes Thanksgiving.  We would also have a big sit down dinner and watch the football games.  The thought of some of our family rushing out to go shopping after turkey dinner is very saddening to me.  Isn't the whole point of Thanksgiving to spend that time together and everyone just hanging out?  To commercialize Christmas so much into needing to start shopping for gifts at the expense of family time is just plain sad.

As for some Christmas traditions, I fully understand how busy we have become.  I am not knocking anyone that goes out and gets the artificial tree that is all pre-made.  But I am stuck again in the memory bank of my dad and I getting the not so perfect tree, drilling the trunk, moving a couple of branches around to fill a gap or two to try and make it our version of heaven.  It wasn’t because we didn’t want to just get the right tree from the start but it was fun doing these things together and making these memories.  Then there were all of us putting everything on the tree together.  My sister and I would fight over the different tasks of trimming the tree.  These are the great memories that you can only get when spending time doing things together.  I fear that too many of these great memory making times are being taking away at the expense of long lines, parking lot rage, and the Christmas tree Made in China.

I think retailers are good at making things convenient for us and thank you to them in most cases.  But for my holidays, I will take a pass and I am going to go slow and try to enjoy them as much as possible and pass it on to my girls as much as possible.

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