Looks More Like a Rut Than Tradition

The happy holiday season is now upon us.  Actually, it never left.  We are in perpetual holiday mode, which should say something about modern society.  What that says escapes me, but it would have to be profound to deal with the depths of the ruts we now find ourselves in.  When you see Christmas decorations in the stores before you see Halloween candy, then you know it is just one giant marketing season.  Christmas supplies now start making their way to the shelves alongside the back-to-school sales.  We heard Christmas music in one store while we shopped for Halloween items.

Chief among the offenders of what used to be a nice November holiday is the Black Friday sales that follow.  It is hard to keep calling it Black Friday when the event starts early in the week on websites and continues into the following week.  No retailer wants anyone else to get a jump on him so they all start opening the stores earlier and earlier for the “Friday” sales.  Thanksgiving used to be a day to spend with relatives and friends.  Everything was closed and we actually had a day to retreat to our homes to give thanks and eat a lot.  Now it will be “hurry up and eat, the stores open soon!”

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year Black Friday started at sometime on Turkey Thursday for the brick and mortar stores.  I fear that in just a few years the old tradition of spending time with family and friends, even if it was only because all the stores are closed, will give rise to another day to race to the shopping mall.  We want to stand in line to get the next “cabbage patch doll” (look it up) or whatever the hot item will be this year.  Is there a general lack of time between the fourth Thursday in November and Christmas Day that crass commercialism must encroach on one of the two days where just about every business was closed?  (The other, of course, is Christmas Day.)  I realize that for some it is the thrill of the hunt, but for others it is like lemmings to the sea.  Do you think that if you are not out in the post Thanksgiving dinner madness that you will have to admit to friends that you did not participate in the widespread seasonal opportunity to spend more than you would like.  It might be important to point out, that people generally find they do not save much.  If they get the items they want, they will probably spend more in the store on other things, which is exactly what merchants want.  If they have us conditioned to shop in the wee hours in the morning, why not let us shop all night long?  This may cost you dearly and certainly shortens the holiday of mall workers everywhere.

Another newly absurd practice is Christmas music on the radio.  The commercial station that plays all Christmas music in season has a warped idea of what the season is.  Having found that playing all Christmas music all day long in season was very popular, they decided to start earlier, and earlier and earlier.  You can listen to Christmas music from Halloween until the end of the year.  Like AM radios stations of yore, however, they seem to have a limited playlist.  How many times over two months can you listen to Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas,” Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and of course Bing Crosby forever crooning “White Christmas?”  Every artist who has had more than two hit albums has recorded Christmas music, if not indeed a Christmas Album.  What about everyone else?  Can we get something new before we watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” one more time?

The thoughts of these limitations did not fall on deaf ears, XM radio has trotted out not one, but two all Christmas music channels, and they have FOUR more in the works.  One of the good traits is they are commercial free, unless you count the constant plugging of their other channels.  I hear songs from the 1940’s through the present.  Glenn Miller band played “Jingle Bells” and Frank Sinatra sang “Silent Night” for me while I made my happy way down crowded streets and “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in…,” but I digress.  “Siriusly,” I am not advocating you Christmas rush your way to your computer to get a subscription to satellite radio.  I did hear the Beach Boys doing “We Three Kings” once too often this week on one of the channels.  Take your favorite CD’s to your car instead.

I have saved the worst of the holiday ruts for last.  It seems that going over the river and through the mall to grandma’s house is not always a good idea.  While your attendance at a family gathering may seem more like a command performance than an invitation, it does not mean you actually have to go.  Yes, I know grandma will be disappointed if you do not bring your fake smile and weary mate to the gathering, but she will get over it if you stop in at other times during the season.  Work on a good lie…I mean story, and stick with it.  Many family gatherings turn into ugly affairs because people who might not normally get together during the year are appeasing grandmas and showing up to an event, when they would rather be at a sports bar or in their own homes.  Pent up feelings are likely to leak out and after a flaming rum punch, or whatever alcohol your prefer, you might just tell Uncle Orville what you really think of him.  The injury that does will probably fester until the next holiday gathering.

There will be plenty of survival guides on Word Press and all the other blog sites.  You Tubers will be busy making videos to help you through the madness.  I will take a pass on that.  I have no good advice that is any better than your own common sense.  I did start watching a video of someone explaining Black Friday traditions.  At first I thought it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but then I decided the young vlogger was just dead wrong.  Beware advice from teenagers and twenty-somethings who play video games all season and anger their parents by not showing up at these dreadfully uncomfortable holiday soirées.  Oh wait, maybe they have something there!

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3 thoughts on “Looks More Like a Rut Than Tradition

  1. I don’t shop on Thanksgiving because I don’t want to, but it’s not a matter of principle. More like having other things to do. I also don’t shop the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Or anytime around Christmas if I can help it. I also know a LOT of people who work holidays by choice. They don’t have families or need the money more than they need another big meal with relatives they don’t like. And there are people who work in professions that are 7 days a week: medical people, police, media … and yes, pharmacists and people who work in retail. I’ve worked on holidays. My husband and son have often worked on holidays. It’s not the end of the world. You can celebrate the next day, or later.

    I don’t actually know ANYONE who shops on a holiday if they have ANY other choice. I have blessed the only open pharmacy when sick and in need of antibiotics. Strep doesn’t take holidays off. As many people who are mall rats, there are just as many — maybe more — mall avoiders. That’s why, with all of this over-marketing (I started getting ‘Black Friday’ adverts in October!) has not actually increased sales at brick and mortar stores. I think the trend is going to continue to be NOT going to the mall and whenever possible, shopping online or off-season. Just one woman’s opinion, but I guarantee you won’t find anyone I know fighting their way through a store to take advantage of a sale!

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    • I avoid the stores on holidays as well. The upside of extending the season is it spreads out the crowd. I am not sure it increases sales that much.

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      • Brick and mortar stores are fighting for their lives against Amazon and other online sellers who can beat them on price most of the time — and on convenience ALL the time. That’s why they have extended the holiday season and cut down on employees and service to consumers, eliminating the one reason there used to be for actually shopping in a store — service. So now, they are where you go if you absolutely have to try it on or Amazon doesn’t sell it. Or it’s last minute and you can’t wait even the 48 hours to get it delivered.

        The worse service gets, the less I want to shop in a store. There are no sales staff left in even expensive shops, so why fight crowds and parking problems. Not to mention hauling packages around. The trend has been down and down for at least a decade and I doubt that’s going to change, no matter how many sales they announce.

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