Humor by Diane Farr

There is nothing like starting the holiday season with a little mace to the face. At least that was the case for one highly dissatisfied shopper.

And here I remember being taught something in school about the day after Thanksgiving being called "Black Friday" because it is the day that many merchants' annual sales tallies go from "in the red" to "in the black."

However, because of two other highly dissatisfied and also-injured customers who were shot while attempting to purchase goods, I'm wondering if Black Friday now should be called "Stay-the-Heck-Home Friday."

Upon hearing news of these attacks, I kept imagining someone whose culture doesn't celebrate Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa wondering what those desperate people must have been shopping for to subject themselves to such danger. Food? Clean water? Blankets? Shoes? Medicine?

No. Flat-screen TVs. DVD players. And children's plastic toys.

I worry that as a society we are falling victim to the unending marketing campaign to make us all run pell-mell for products that have been available all year long and will still be available in January, sometimes at even cheaper prices than in December. The commercials, circulars and billboard ads are definitely working, as consumers are attacking each other for goods - in November - not just for a discount but also because they fear time is "Running Out!"

How could anyone run out of time in a holiday season that now lasts at least seven weeks - from mid-November till January 1 - all ripe with big banner sale days? Remember when homeowners used to put up "Christmas lights" in mid-December and leave them till the second week of January? The lights dramatized a biblical story point: That the Three Wise Men found baby Jesus because of the star's brightness. Now the lights seem more like runway lighting, showing us the most direct route to a shopping mall.

I also find it a little sad that in major American cities, shopping malls are the most festive places to spend pre-Christmas days. Their holiday trees are much taller and brighter than those in any church I've seen. Could it be that corporations making their barely taxed fortunes off the 96 percent are trying to lure families to write their wish lists amid those displays?

These bright lights leading to the Mecca of consumerism are also just the beginning. Once inside the pearly parking lot gates, the holiday season is now also marked by seasonal flavors of coffee at Starbucks, as well as by new CDs to buy at the counter.

Call me a curmudgeon, but although I see the five signs for those seasonal drinks - that I pray-tell don't want to miss out on over the next two months because a peppermint mocha really is the perfect representation of what family time at year's end means to me - I only go to coffee shops for coffee-flavored-coffee. And I don't need it packaged with seven other reindeer flavors. And my holiday season will be complete without a former gangbanger-now-rapper's new holiday CD set marketed alongside my beverage.

I begrudgingly started my family's holiday season yesterday when we went to buy a Christmas tree at what my toddlers called a "Christmas forest" that was really a well-decorated parking lot. Feeling all this internal push to buy and spend for a one-day holiday that I no longer make religious in any way, I finally began to worry about the trees, too. The attendant told me they're grown solely for Christmas trees, so the trade actually helps the earth rather than hurting it.

Feeling some relief that all isn't going to hell just because I'm buying in, my husband and I lugged a small tree to our car - and then headed over to the mall for pictures with Santa. My little ones were madly impressed by the 100-foot tree there, and all the lights and even the flying reindeer. We then let them tell us what they want as gifts this year from all the store windows.

And as we begin to spend all the money we will calmly and thoughtfully put into the economy at year's end, I am desperately hoping it will help our corner of earth rather than hurt it, too.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - Feeling the Seasonal Spirit | Humor - Diane Farr

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