Dear America and American Consumers:
It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort the advertising executives of America spend trying to swindle us, the American consumers, on the day after Thanksgiving. From "two for one" deals to "super savings," to "double discounts," it's truly disgusting the extent that advertising will go. No where is this more apparent than at the exemplar of our American values: the mall.
As soon as Halloween is over, Christmas lights and plastic ornaments deck the halls, terraces, and stairs while music proclaiming "good cheer" and "peace to your fellow man" plays in the background to the tune of an ironic juxtaposition. We flock to the modern marketplace on this day, each enticed by the glow of the pseudo-holiday spirit proclaiming cheerful, but affected, festive attitudes. They want us to spend money. They trick us with the deals. They make us desire the goods. They tell us to want it all, and, since we're probably on credit, they tell us to disregard the costs. It's a consumer-eat-consumer world on this day (that's practically literal too!), and that's why the day after Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, the epitome of disintegrating American values.
It would be ill of me to try and canonize myself and say that I do not partake in such consumption because I do and I know almost everyone else does. However, I do not join in the throngs of blithe bevies flocking the walkways of the mall. In fact, I do not shop any more during this season than I do during the rest of the year.1 However, I get the impression that most people in America spend more time at the mall during this season than any other time during the year.2 I also get the feeling that people really don't care about the "holiday spirit" unless it includes flipping you off because you stole their parking spot or pushing you out of the way so they can get the last copy of the latest game for the newest video game system. Happy Holidays, indeed!
The more I've thought about the "holiday season" over the last few years, the more I've started to wonder when everything changed so drastically. When did the "holiday season" become the season of pleasing by reason of the dollar bill? When did Christmas lose its original authentic meaning and transform into "Consumermass"?
I know it's pointless to ask these questions and ponder them away, but when Thanksgiving ends and the "holiday season" begins, I start to become depressed.3 The bonhomie of togetherness instantly dissolves into the detached demeanor of separateness. No one seems to truly care about anyone else. There is little to no compassion. And, ultimately, the true colors of America, green and red, illuminate the sky to proclaim our dire affections: money and greed at the cost of blood, sweat, and tears.
This is never a season of warmth.4 This is never a season of good cheer.5 This is, instead, a representation of our dire afflictions.6 Our greed. Our recklessness. Our lack of compassion. Our thoughtlessness. Our societies' increasing detachment from community, from being connected and concerned. I'm not saying we should become the share-happy society of Sesame Street, but it wouldn't hurt to care a little more. It wouldn't hurt to express compassion. To spare some money for those who are less fortunate. To give instead of get.7
I challenge you to do something different this year. Do something, anything, for the better of the season, for the real reason of the "holiday season." It's not enough to accept things as they are or to say that you'll do something different. Show someone you actually care without the typical drop of few dollar bills. Donate to an organization. Give your time. Give to someone in need. Prove that our "holiday season" isn't what the corporations and advertising executives want us to believe its about, but what we, as a community and a society, truly care about--each other.
With hope for a better "holiday season,"
1: In fact, I'm certain I shop less. So much for the law of supply and demand!
2: Partially due to the long lines, the hordes of people, the bitchy sales attendants, and the lack of knowledgeable employees.
3: In addition to my bouts with SAD. Why does the sun play tricks on me, why!
4: Unless someone has puked on you after drinking copious amounts of alcohol, but that's not really the kind of warmth you want.
5: Unless you are drinking and are in the company of good friends and you aren't throwing up!
6: Of course, too much drinking could be a sign of a dire affliction too.
7: But not STDs, no one really wants those.
Dear America and American Consumers: