This month’s vendetta: Christmas. Why Christmas? The fact that my Christmas vendetta has to begin on November 6th should say it all. This holiday could be the poster child for scope creep. It starts out as a nice little religious holiday, sing some songs and have a big meal with your friends, and now it’s an entire season.
And what is the season about? Shopping. OK, shopping and drinking.
Normally, I am all for shopping and drinking. In fact, I like to start by having a drink to lower my inhibitions about maxxing out the Visa card, get a few hours of hours of shopping in, stop for another drink to get my second wind, and then keep on shopping until I hit that limit.
The problem with Christmas is that it makes it virtually impossible to achieve this shopping-drinking synergy. The stores are so crowded that you need your edge if you’re going to elbow your way into the store, clobber your way to the must-have-under-the-tree toy, and drag yourself all the way to the cash register. And as we all know, alcohol takes the edge off.
But you know where alcohol doesn’t take the edge off? Your office Christmas party. Office party booze actually puts the edge back on. By my fourth crantini I’m really worried about what I said to the client who just asked me a question about that thing we did with the whaddyacallit. By the fifth crantini I’m ready to gnaw my way out of the bar, if only to ensure my colleagues won’t have another chance to YouTube me singing “One Night in Bangkok”.
If the shopping and drinking were the whole Christmas drama, I might be prepared to charge up my Visa, water down my vodka, grit my teeth and coast through to December 26. But there are a thousand other little nightmares along the way. The Christmas muzak piped through every orifice of every building in the western hemisphere. The tedious heartwarming Christmas movies, TV shows and ads that occupy every screen in your field of vision. The Christmas dinner where you seat someone new in the seat that used to belong to Uncle Quentin, who was noisy and rude and you never really liked, until he divorced your Aunt Nina and now that there’s someone else in his seat you actually kind of miss him. And now, thanks to the joys of parenthood, the lobbying campaign that begins in mid-October for the Glow-in-the-dark Lion King Princess Barbie.
Do a poll of your own and find out whether anyone you know really needs multicoloured strings of tree lights to find their way home after Daylight Savings Time ends. Or cherishes the opportunity to spend $20 on a totally generic present for an office gift exchange where everyone gets something they don’t need and gives something they wouldn’t otherwise buy.
Or ask them whether they feel that our society really needs at this moment — a moment when we’re drowning in our own excess consumption, stripping the planet of its few remaining resources, and killing each other over our ethnic and religous differences — is an extended version of a European-created religious holiday, metamorphosized into an American marketing and consumption orgy.
I make a good case, don’t I?
Sadly, I must now inform you that this month’s vendetta has been cancelled. In the face of overwhelming evidence, and upon receipt of a cease-and-desist letter from the International Conspiracy of Christmas Marketers, I have been forced to concede that this is one vendetta in which I am unlikely to prevail.
Christmas is here to stay.
This is not an unconditional capitulation, however. Christmas, I am prepared to accept your continued existence. In return, I must stipulate that the Christmas season will henceforth commence no earlier than midnight on December 22, and end no later than midnight on December 25. Any seasonal decorations, Santa sightings, gingerbread foodstuffs, red and green wrapping paper, limited edition toys, Ebenezer Scrooge references, gift shopping, Nutcracker performances, evergreen decapitation or other holiday-related activities undertaken outside of this window will be punished with mandatory consumption of an 18-month-old brandy-soaked plum cake. And no sneaking in with “season’s greetings”, “winterfest celebrations”, “Chanukah bushes” or the like.
Yes, it will be three days of sheer hell — think, 72 hours of shopping fuelled only by eggnog — but then it will be over, and we can return to our usual programming, already in progress.
For all you folks who insist — despite all ad-supported evidence to the contrary — that Christmas is actually about the spirit of giving, love, peace on earth, etc etc, I want to reassure you that neither the vendetta nor the time limit extend to any of these virtues or practices. Go ahead and have as much peace on earth as you want. Can I suggest that Iraq might be a better place to try that out than your local mall?
Ditto for love. Bring it on.Don’t feel like you have to wait until after Halloween, or American Thanksgiving, or whatever.Â In fact, go for a 365-day-a-year love party, if you want to.
As for giving, again, I’m all for it. And since you need to have a target for all that spirit of giving stuff, let me volunteer my services as a recipient. But just to keep you safe on the whole Christmas spirit front, let me encourage the giving to focus on ethically produced, sustainably harvested, and ideally handmade products. I’m still looking for someone to knit me a black cardigan.