A Christmas lament

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 88 views 

We’re busy people, you and me. With responsibilities and schedules constantly starring us in the face, we don’t have time to consider the implications of life, either the serious or the moronic.

Or the seemingly silly – like corporate America’s decision to convince U.S. consumers that the Christmas season properly begins much sooner in 2012 than it ever did half a century ago. And with record Black Friday sales everywhere a person looked last week, it is clear consumers are totally down with that.

But should we be? A few weeks or two before Thanksgiving a local radio station, and then a second, switched over from their regularly scheduled programming to every day, all the time Christmas tunes. Maybe it is because they believe in world peace and spreading the story of Christ’s birth to as many people as humanely possible. But more likely it is because advertisers are always happy to catch and keep your attention, and Christmas tunes at this time of year is a good way to do that.

Or consider that Black Friday shoppers came home to glimpse what will probably be the only airing of “Frosty the Snowman” this holiday season. And earlier this week “A Charlie Brown Christmas” hit airwaves. I enjoy watching both programs every year – but not in November, when Thanksgiving leftovers are still taking up space in refrigerators near and far.

Clearly many souls, children and adults alike, look forward to the Christmas season, if only because Dec. 25 offers that rare day off for America’s working populace. But ginning up Americans everywhere into a cycle of capitalism run amuck before Turkey Day is even past isn’t what Christmas is supposed to be about. Not really.

I can appreciate that America is still struggling to overcome a painful recession, and that every dollar injected into the economy should be considered a plus for government revenue and thoughtful presents headed for loved ones alike.

But it disappoints that nothing is seemingly off limits in this rush to completely corporatize one the best days of the year. Just the other day one of those local Christmas-tunes-all-the-time local radio stations began blasting the John Lennon classic “Happy X-Mas.” It’s a song about togetherness, about wishing happiness and good tidings to everyone, regardless of what might make them different from you. Like many a Christmas song, if offers a great message. But listening to it come across the dial that November evening, in between ads pushing this and that great deal, not sensing the misappropriation of a beautiful gets more and more difficult.

I don’t really point the finger at Corporate America. Business exists to expand and make money. If pushing back the start of the Christmas season in our minds accomplishes that goal, we shouldn’t be surprised to see radio stations, advertisers and businesses of every stripe engage in such activities on an annual basis. After all, more bling under the Christmas tree means more revenue to bottom lines, which theoretically invites companies to lay off fewer employees.

The disappointment, if any, rests with consumers. Americans should be more cognizant of their rights, which somewhere way down the list include not being ordered to a shopping mall near you and made to buy a variety of gifts before the Christmas season can be considered official.

Obviously it is great that people are willing to help Santa get their Christmas shopping done ASAP. But will Americans, who annually grow more anxious to accomplish society’s checklist in speedy fashion, even remember to celebrate Christ’s birth? Or will we require reminding by one of those 24/7 radio stations to accomplish even that?

Either way, the idealized Christmas our parents grew up enjoying won’t be the holiday today’s young people grow up with.

Hopefully we’re okay with that. Because a world where John Lennon is used to sell discounts on towels, cars and lawnmowers isn’t the direction in which we’re headed. It’s the world we’ve already made.