Black Friday. What a Christmas tradition!
Long lineups, crowded malls, throngs of belligerent shoppers pushing, shoving, elbowing each other out of the way in order to get their hands on the latest electronic device, or fashion fad whipped up in the sweat shops of Southeast Asia. It’s all too festive!
When I think about how dull Christmas used to be, I am overjoyed that, like the latest video games, the holidays have become scenes of perpetual, frenetic activity and gratuitous mayhem.
The fabulous sales last right up until Christmas Eve and start again Boxing Day, providing more than enough opportunity for invigorating onslaughts.
When I was growing up, the days leading up to Christmas consisted of helping my father untangle the Christmas lights, practicing for the church Christmas pageant (I was always either a Wise Man or a shepherd) and spending one Saturday at Woolworth’s trying to stretch my $7 far enough to buy presents for everyone in the family.
Christmas Eve was always spent at my Aunt Phyllis’ house where I sat for an inordinately long period of time at the children’s dinner table, waiting for permission to go and play with my cousins’ toys.
My cousins, being no dummies, hid the good toys on these occasions so that the only things left to play with were a rocking horse, a couple of old stuffed animals and a Howdy Doody marionette with one string missing.
The cap pistols, model planes and Caterpillar bulldozer, with real moving treads, were always off limits, no doubt due to the fact that my older brother Jeff was notoriously hard on toys.
He once broke a bicycle, antique dollhouse and kiddie snow cone machine in less than 10 minutes.
Christmas Day started off great at about 5 a.m., with much excited squirming in our beds, while we waited for the 7 o’clock go-ahead to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought – the excitement didn’t last.
The hoped-for model plane with the real gas engine turned out to be a sweater, the sled, two shirts and a jigsaw puzzle. Dullsville!
How much better today when, instead of tedious family gatherings, boring church services, monotonous carol singing and plodding sleigh rides, we can take part in adrenaline surging assaults on the front doors of Wal-Mart or overwhelm the pathetic security guards at Target and emerge laden with enough booty to satisfy even Blackbeard’s lust for contraband.
The excitement brought to the hearts of all those stalwart shoppers represents a whole new take on the term “Christmas rush,” and I hope it will be seen as a welcome addition to traditional Yuletide joy, a sort of gift gifts give even before they’re given.
– Jim Holtz is WEEKENDER columnist and former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette