Sunday, December 13, 2009

Here’s my annual “bah, humbug” post.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am not bashing the Christmas holiday itself. I am what you might call a “non-believer”, but I really have no problem with celebrating what is supposed to be a purely Christian holiday. I have said before that if I were a Christian, I would probably be a tad annoyed at what the holiday has become as well. And that is what I am really annoyed about.

Pressure. That is really what this holiday has become. There’s pressure to find the perfect gift, to bake the perfect pie and cookies, to have the perfect Christmas with your perfect family. Why? Because corporate America wants to sell you stuff. And not just ANY stuff. A lot of stuff and most of it expensive.

I remember when Christmas commercials were a lot about kids toys and maybe a commercial for an electric razor thrown in for good measure. (“Even our name says Merry Christmas!”)

What are the predominant Christmas commericials these days? From what I see, they are for luxury automobiles and a lot of very fancy and expensive looking jewelry. How many people really go out and buy luxury cars for themselves and their spouses at Christmas? And this is at a time when it is estimated that one in 8 kids in America is getting support from food stamps. Where unemployment is running in the double digits. Luxury cars for Christmas? I guess the well off will buy their gifts no matter what else is going on around them, and that this advertising is aimed at them. People without jobs or getting assistance from food stamps aren’t going to have much purchasing power, so the advertisers seem to have acknowledged that fact and just about abandoned the lower and part of the middle class altogether.

The Christmas ads that really burn me are the ones for jewelry. I really dislike ostentatious displays anyway, and big, fat diamonds are about the best way to show that. Talk about a totally worthless expenditure of money to support an industry that has a corner on the market. That aside, I am really annoyed by the implication that buying someone a really bright, shiney bauble is the ultimate in romance. All these people in these commercials are young and beautiful, and they act like they came out of a romance novel. Tell me, what guy in his right mind would go out in the middle of the forest and wrap a living tree in lights, just so he can spring a diamond necklace on his girlfriend? And that assumes that he has a REALLY long extension cord or lugged a car battery out there as well. I think that these ads are really targeting the lazy bum who really isn’t normally too keen on keeping his wife’s or girlfriend’s feelings close to his heart and sees that buying jewelry would be a nice, easy (albeit expensive) way to immeidiately get back in his wife’s or girlfriend’s good graces. The women in these commercials always, without fail, are just awestruck and have this look on their faces that they would do absolutely anything for this guy who just bought her this piece of junk.

My favorite holiday, I think, is Thanksgiving. It hasn’t been completely taken over by crass commercialism. This is mostly because there aren’t any gifts involved. If there were, you can bet that Corporate America would immedialely jump in there. Christmas should be like Thanksgiving, with maybe a few gifts but witbout any pressure. Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Emphasize the “merry” and “little.” Celebrate family. And your religion, if that is part of it for you. But do not pressure yourself into living up to some ridiculous ideal concocted by Madison Avenue to sell you an every increasing array of very expensive crap that you probably can’t afford.

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