by Rosemary and Walter Brasch
At one time, people placed carved pumpkins with a candle inside on their front porches to announce the beginning of the Halloween season.
And then it became a contest. First, best Halloween pumpkin. And then who could decorate their trees and hedges with the best fake cobwebs, followed by fake witches in trees.
Next came Pumpkin Chunkin’, where teams make catapults and launch pumpkins.
The beneficiaries of all this, of course, are the candy companies—which have steadily decreased the number of miniature candies and increased the price of them in giant bags—the card industry that began marketing their products not long after Labor Day, and just about every company that has figured out how to produce their products in orange and black.
After Halloween comes Christmas decorations, bypassing anything for Veterans Day. At one time, homeowners and businesses set up Christmas displays after Thanksgiving, but it takes more than a month to replace pumpkins with lights, displays, and inflatable snowmen.
For Thanksgiving, wedged between Halloween and Christmas, we get supermarket ads shoving turkeys, cranberries, and sweet potato pies down our wallets.
Overlooked in national celebrations, and shoved out of the decorating frenzy of the other holidays, is what is probably the most important day of the year—Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, 87 million Americans bought more than $50 billion in merchandise in the four-day period after Thanksgiving. This is definitely not enough. We consumers must push that number even higher.
There are no home displays to commemorate what is the busiest buying day of the season.
We have an idea.
Instead of replacing the cobwebs of Halloween with the Lights of Christmas, why not decorate our homes and yards with the spirit of commercialism? It’s definitely the American Spirit.
Because plastic pumpkins are replacing organic ones, and artificial Christmas trees are replacing those pesky biodegradable real ones, we can make sure that Black Friday becomes a truly plastic holiday. Indeed, plastic pumpkins will never go away, much like our plastic credit card debt incurred on that one special day.
In front of our houses we can decorate trees with maxed-out and cancelled credit cards. Special blacklights can shine upon the new silver data chips in the cards to create a ghoulish effect of avarice and conspicuous consumption. Batteries not included.
Every season needs its own special clothes. In October, we wear Halloween costumes and orange sweatshirts; in December, it’s Christmas sweaters. For Black Friday, store clerks could wear black hoodies, reminding all of us about the mugging our bank accounts are receiving.
Black Friday sales allow the human species to determine the survival of the fittest. That leads to thousands injured in car accidents while speeding to 30 sales in one day, and to the survivors of Mall Trampling exercises to reach those elusive 20 percent discount on whatever it is that the retailers think will attract the most customers this year. The benefit, of course, is to hospitals.
In front of our houses, we can replace inflatable pumpkins with an inflatable ER, complete with an overworked inflatable nurse who automatically deflates after a 12-hour shift.
On our doors, we can replace Christmas wreaths with Sheriff’s Sale signs or, at the least, “late notices” from the utilities companies.
With proper merchandising, corporate America and fraggled homeowners can spend the last four months of the year, from Labor Day onward, in one long holiday. We can call it The Months of Con. Or, maybe, Months of Fusion. Or, perhaps, The Season of Debt and Con-Fusion.
[Rosemary Brasch is a retired secretary, Red Cross family services disaster specialist, and labor studies college instructor; Walter Brasch is a journalist/author. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania.]