Today is the Friday after Thanksgiving, more commonly known as Black Friday. For most Americans this marks the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season (although I know there are many of you out there who are very smart and motivated and have already finished your Christmas shopping).
According to Wikipedia, Black Friday was original a term coined by the Philadelphia police in reference to the high volume of traffic on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was later used in reference to retailers going from being down in sales (in the red) to increasing their sales (being in the black).
Now it’s famous for being one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Those of us unfortunate enough to be working in retail during this time of year know what it can be like. And we’ve all heard the horror stories on the news about people fighting over toys and last year a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by overzealous holiday shoppers.
My question is, why? Why do we do this every year? What happened to the true meaning of Christmas? Whether you’re Christian or not, isn’t Christmas still supposed to be more about giving than receiving? About appreciating your loved ones and showing them you care? Since when did Tickle-Me Elmos, and Furbies (and what the hell is a Zhu Zhu Hamster?) become more important than family during the holiday season?
Some of you may be familiar with a little thing called Elf on a Shelf. If you’ve never heard of it, consider yourself lucky. If you’ve actually purchased one for your child, you should be ashamed of yourself. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong about believing in Santa, but this Elf is just downright disturbing.) For those of you who do not know, this Elf is a creepy little guy you hide all around you house every day for your kids to find, and you tell them he’s watching you and reporting to Santa at night while they are asleep. In other words, he’s a spy. But that’s not even the worst part.
During our holiday meeting for work we had to watch a training video on these stupid Elves because our company is really pushing them this year (we received over a 100 into the store in one day). You want to know what we learned from this video? That this Elf Spy is more popular than Baby Jesus. I kid you not. One woman actually said on camera that her kids enjoyed this Evil Elf more than their advent calendar. These kids are being encouraged to accept the world of commercialism way too early.
Now I know some of you are thinking that these opinions are baseless, since I do not have kids of my own. Which may be true. But one woman I work with does have kids and considered buying the Elf until she heard the above woman’s comments on the Elf. She was horrified by that admission. So it’s not just me.
I know Christmas means different things to different people; we don’t all have the same religious beliefs, but I always believed that no matter what your personal beliefs, Christmas should be a magical time of the year. It’s not supposed to be about the material things. I think it’s time we put aside all the ridiculous commercialism and put the “Peace on Earth” and “Goodwill toward Men” ideas back into Christmas.
After all, if the Grinch can learn his lesson, why can’t we?
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”