Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'Tis the Season

It's been a strange, enjoyable Christmas season so far. No jingles that stay in your head, no plastic Santas on every third lawn, no Christmas sales advertised on tv and radio and in my Sunday paper, no Christmas-themed television shows and segments on the evening news live from Wal-Mart to tell you what's this year's Cabbage Patch or Furbee or Burping Betty. No first day after Thanskgiving. No last day for guaranteed delivery by the 24th. No Kwanza, thank god there's none of that. This is a holiday so cynical and materialistic, people, it was created to coincide with the post-Christmas sales -- the seven day celebration of "African roots" starts December 26th, at a mall near you.

Scrooge, you say? No. Just saying if we used to celebrate a religion, a system of beliefs, now, in the secular world, we celebrate a verb: to buy. The stuff with the family's good Christmas Day, but there's about 30 days of Christmas leading up to that which can induce a crazy kind of anxiousness and fear.

I found this enjoyable read on a friend's blog.

There is nothing in the Gospels about battling other parents for the last Xbox 360 or knocking down other shoppers to get to discounted personal computers. There are no Christmas sales in the New Testament, nor is there instruction on returning the items you didn't like. There are no guidelines on the dubious practice of "re-gifting." (If you look closely, however, you can probably find admonitions against cursing out the motorist who got to that one empty parking space before you.)

Here, a tree went up the other day in the public square. I saw one store that looked a little greener and redder than usual. Nothing on TV. But then they celebrate according to the Julian calendar, January 7, and I hear trees are decorated and gifts exchanged for New Year's as much as anything else. It's like there's a war somewhere, and all the usual color and noise has been rationed, enough left only for a central square and then another tree down at the train station. Oh, and snow. They had enough left over for that.

It's kind of nice.

Photo courtesy of Adbusters, the anti-consumerist group with branches in a handful of countries, including Norway.