This Christmas was more special for me: it’s the first Christmas I can remember in a very, very long time in which I can safely say I’ve enjoyed and fully appreciated the season. You see, for the past 30 plus years I’ve worked in what is probably the most Scrooge-like, coldblooded, mean spirited business in which a person could work at this time of the year — retailing. Actually, I’m insulting the Dickens’ character because he, at least, became repentant toward the end. Retailing on the other hand, especially what are referred to as the “big box” stores, primarily (but not exclusively) department stores has no such scruples. Moreover, the American consumer has become equally coldblooded in encouraging major retailers’ (and many small ones’) behaviour by gorging themselves in spending and debiting themselves to borderline insolvency in order to slake a need to be accepted by others through a superficial act of materialism.
The problem lies in that this act of buying “things” in voracious quantities has been so conditioned into the American psyche that those who don’t (and even a few that do) work as retail sales clerks — oh, excuse me: “associates” (as if that reflected that they aren’t considered the low life scum that they are considered) — don’t even give it a second thought that these stores have to be manned by people during those wee hours of the morning in which these stores insist upon being open. When stores like Kohl’s are open 24 hours during the week before Christmas I’m sure the people who shop at 3:00 a.m. are so incredibly selfish, or absolutely stupid/clueless to understand that just because they can’t sleep at night, it doesn’t mean that that sales person, who is doing everything he or she can to stay awake, doesn’t want to be at home sleeping next to a partner or spouse. The thoughtlessness of the American consumer is one of the most telltale examples of our material obsession over life affirming values. It is significantly indicative of how petty and shoal American society continues to devolve.
We could give a s— about those essentially indentured servants to our beck-and-call to which they must respond (at 4:00 a.m.), and who must deal with the most petty of enquires about those things that are no longer in stock and for which there is no longer a supply and the irate self-entitled behaviour such circumstances engender. Hey Ms/Mr. shopper, do you think that: 1) what you ask is reasonable? 2) That the person of whom you are demanding your petty concerns actually gives a damn? Moreover, even if you don’t acknowledge what kind of loathsome creature you are, do you think making some one else’s life miserable just so that you can buy a few trinkets for somebody you wish to impress with your “thoughtfulness” justifies your incorrigible behaviour?
Nevertheless, I still blame retailers for taking Christmas and making it into something so less than the religious and (dare I say?) spiritual holiday that it is supposed to be. It is simply a reflection, a byproduct, of the materialism as generated by the avarice defined by the nature of Capitalism. Greed has not only become the dominant force behind this holiday, it has become the expedient tool by which the avaricious have asphyxiated the original concept of Christmas by quite literally eviscerating it. A recent Wall Street Journal article shows how the season has been co-opted by businesses appealing to recent societal trends by capitalising on trashing Christmas for the politically correct and the monetarily fruitful vomit of “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.”
I, for one, am sick of it.
The lust for profit has driven retailers to take these extraordinary and ultimately unprofitable extremes with little or no consideration for the fiduciary responsibilities to their employees welfare. The amount of business they do in additional sales relative to the cost of good will and additional expense to their employees (I’m sure there are egregious anecdotal exceptions) much less operating overhead, simply goes against any rational business sense. But, that’s what we’ve come to expect from these big stores: desperation over rationality.
Anyway, I’m glad I’m out of it and am in a position to say “no” to working weekends and late nights. This year I was able to do what little shopping I needed to do with ease and no stress or pressure. I was able to simply spend quiet evenings listening to REAL Christmas music, watch “It’s Christmas Charlie Brown,” have a simple yet elegant meal by candlelight, and just overall simply relax and absorb the the wonders (again through the true music of the season) and mystery of Christmas with my beloved. Whether or not one adheres to precepts of the theology associated with Christmas Day is irrelevant. There is something much more — a metaphysics if you will — that, if you’re simply willing to give yourself the time and honesty, transcends all the commerce, and avarice that have become such an unfortunate aspect of Christmastide. Hey folks, there are twelve days in Christmastide, not one; do something more than just buy a present or two for someone. Find yourself.