I went to the local drug store yesterday morning to get something and Christmas music was playing. The store was decorated in its glittering Christmas best. This drug store was the last great holdout.
When I say drug store, I must qualify that. This store was nothing like the drug stores of my youth. Back then drugs stores sold only drugs, cosmetics, and sundries. "My" drug store today sells groceries, toys, medical supplies, holiday decorations and more - you can even buy a HP printer cartridge or a coffee pot there. Instead of a drug store it is more like a huge convenience store or a small grocery store where the drug store. pharmacy and all, just happens to be inside with everything else.
Anyway, this drug store has won quite a lot of my business in these past few weeks. If I could buy it there, I bought it there. I didn't patronize Super Walmart or the other local groceries stores unless I absolutely had to. You see, the other stores in my little town play the "Let's Start Christmas On Halloween" game. These other stores put up their Christmas decorations and started playing Christmas on the same day they took down the Halloween stuff. It all seems to smack of greed to me. What do I know, though? I'm just a grumpy, old man.
All this stuff makes me angry for a number of reasons:
The first being, so I'm told, is that I'm turning into a curmudgeon - and old Grinch. I become more cynical with the passing of each year. To the same degree as the years remaining in my life dwindle, my compulsion to grump and grouch and carryon about things that annoy me increases.
Let's start off with this one: Sometimes I don't like the way the world is today, but it's not because I've not kept up with technology. Some of the twenty-somethings probably look at me and think, "What an old useless coot." Wait a minute - I use computers, the Internet, cell phones, I've even got a Blue Tooth. (For those who haven't kept up, Blue Tooth isn't a disease. My teeth are not blue - not a single tooth.)
I don't like the speed of everything these days. The world seems too speeded-up to me. Now that I'm older and the calendar of the future is shrinking exponentially, times goes too fast as it is. The last thing an old curmudgeon like me needs is the world going faster than the old internal clock. I always feel like I'm in race against time. Today is Wednesday. Sunday seems like it was only a couple of hours ago. It seems like last Christmas was only a couple of months ago.
When I was a kid, it seemed like the last week before Christmas took an entire year to go by. Waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting. That's all a kid does at Christmas is wait. I guess kids' internal clocks are set on "Very Slow". And no matter how much adults and technophiles try to speed it up, the internal clock inside kids refuses to go any faster. It must be something to do with Einstein's theory of relativity.
Here I am on December 3rd and according to most stores in my little town we've been in the "Christmas Season" since Halloween. Tree weeks from today is Christmas Eve. If I were a kid I wouldn't dare start my Christmas countdown yet - it would make the wait unbearable. Kids have more sense than that. Yet, I know, in a couple of hours it will be Christmas Day and then New Year's Day, the combination of my own aged and speeded-up internal clock and the world's need for instant gratification will combine to scoot me right into the first of next year in just a few hours - from my aged perspective .
And, before you know it, I will be hearing that same question I hear every year, "You gonna watch the Super Bowl?" I will be replying with the same answer as I do every year -"Nope. Not going to watch it just like I didn't watch it last year." And I'll get angry when I see all those stupid "Super Bowl Party" displays in all the grocery stores. Maybe my drug store will remain above the frenzy and not have a Stupid Bowl display. If so, they can count on increased business from me. Again.
Am I wrong? Is America really that starved for parties that any excuse is good enough. Even a football game between two teams who probably have already played each other twice this season? Teams I've never watch and don't care a thing about? Worse, do I really have to hear about all the celebrities who will be attending - and how wonderful they looked? Or how about those fools who pay $25,000 per ticket to get a seat at the Super Bowl? I wonder how many families they could have fed with that $25,000 - especially in this awful economic situation we're in? It's more fun to party than to feed the poor. Me and society just aren't on the same page. Surely someone out there must think the same things as I do?
Then we have to face the green beer on St. Patrick's Day. Was St. Patrick the patron Saint of beer? What's the deal with getting drunk on St. Patrick's day. I digress, I'm sorry.
The second reason for my churlishness today, in regard to the extended Christmas season, are the TV commercials. I can't imagine giving anyone a Lexus for Christmas, anyone giving me one, or anyone actually asking for one. Maybe I live on a different plane than others - giving someone a Lexus seems decadent to me. And asking for one seems even worse.
And while I'm on the subject of decadence, what about buying someone a $10,000 diamond ring? Does that mean he who buys his wife or girlfriend a$10,000 diamond ring from Jared's loves his wife/girlfriend more than some poor, hard-working stiff who could barely scrape up $20.00 give his wife a Timex watch from Walmart? Do we have to watch these actors portraying fawning lovers squatting beneath impeccably decorated Christmas trees thrusting large chunks of diamonds on some model or another's finger? I'd rather watch Joe The Plumber pour Drain-o down his girlfriend's toilet. And, I'm not a big Joe The Plumber fan. But, that's another story for another time.
I could go on and on, but you're getting the idea. I'm not happy with Christmas season starting on Halloween. How many times can you hear "Silver Bells" before it's not special anymore.
Starting Christmas the minute that Halloween ends only makes Christmas less magic. I feel sorry for the children today. I can remember when Christmas music was special. You only heard it maybe for ten days a year. Now it lingers from October 31 through midnight on December 25. Nearly two months of Christmas music means by the time Christmas Day arrives you'd almost rather listen to Fifty Cent. I said "almost".
Stealing the magic from Christmas and trying to turn it into a nearly two-month long shopping spree in order to suck every spare nickel and dime from shoppers seems to be contrary to the real Spirit of Christmas. We are being programmed by advertisers, manufacturers, and merchants into believing the value of Christmas and the success of the Season itself can be measure in dollars - and it can't.
Even though I'm being a Scrooge right now, I feel bad that so many are trying to take away the beauty, wonder and magic of Christmas by turning a special season into a commercial free-for-all.
I'm trying not to listen to any Christmas music or look at any Christmas lights or send any Christmas cards or say "Merry Christmas" until it is really the Christmas Season. I'm not sure when Christmas Season is supposed to begin, but this year for me I'm setting myself a reminder on December 15th. On that day, I will open my eyes and see the lights of Christmas, I will open my ears and hear the joyous sounds of Christmas, and I will open my heart and feel the love of Christmas. I will expect nothing and ask nothing of others - and I will gladly give what I can to those I love, not because I'm supposed to, but because I want to. I always get more joy from giving than receiving anyway. And isn't that the way Christmas is really supposed to be?
"If only in my dreams...."