by Walter Brasch
It’s now been about a week after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
During the four-day spree, about 133.7 million shoppers spent about $50.9 billion, according to AP and TIME magazine.
The psychological necessity to push, shove, and trample strangers while fighting for the right to purchase overpriced merchandize made in China has just begun. Thanksgiving—a day when Americans give thanks the Native Americans didn’t have immigration quotas—begins a 30-day frenzy to buy whatever corporate America is selling. It’s an American tradition to give presents to relatives, friends, business associates, and mistresses, all of whom will also give you presents, which will be opened, sometimes enjoyed, and often returned within a week for something better. Each shopper will spend about $781, according to Statista Research, while boasting about the great bargains they are getting, and how the government spends too much and takes too much of our hard-earned income for unnecessary expenses, like road repair, health care, environmental protection, and food stamps for the impoverished.
To assuage our spirit of greed—and the need to feel loved because we bought someone something—we will drop change into Salvation Army kettles, while disgustingly stepping around the homeless.
We say how much we support the troops, while we go to Christmas parties, get drunk, and then forget those who come home damaged.
It makes no difference what our faith or culture is, we enjoy the lights and inflatable snowmen, but sometimes wonder if extravagant displays are nothing more than neighborhood contests to show our pride of affluence.
At department stores, grocery stores, and every kind of business known to mankind—and a few that no one wants to claim to know about—minimum wage clerks will wish customers a happy holiday. As expected, the lunatic fringe (known as Tea Party Republicans and Fox News commentators) will declare there is a war on Christmas, and demand everything with at least a dozen carbon atoms in its system wish only, “Merry Christmas.” To prove how good Christians they think they are, they will also expect the greeting to be shouted if the customer didn’t hear it the first time—“I said ‘Merry Christmas’!” Wishing someone “Happy Chanukah,” of course, is seen not only as un-American, but treason. It’s war, say Hannity, Limbaugh, and the whackadoodle horde who don’t realize how funny they truly are.
It’s possible these religious zealots, with a political ideology of hate that dominates their soul, don’t realize that Jesus might have preferred to be greeted with “Happy Holidays” or “Happy Chanukah.” Even if he was trying to get through the wall of souls to find a pair of on-sale sandals or a doll from Frozen, he would probably smile, and wish his fellow shoppers joy, love, kindness, and respect.
[Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist, professor emeritus of mass communications, and the author of 20 books. His most recent book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster.]