Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Fever Sets In

It's been a while since I posted anything. Sorry about that. Rather than write a real post, however, I have decided to mine the depths of my past, pulling out an article I wrote for Swine, Inc. back when I was in college. It is, in fact, one of the articles I submitted to the Society of Professional Journalists who, in response, gave me some kind of award for journalistic excellence. Which I found amusing. Because I wrote the thing in 20 minutes while nursing a hangover.

So, Abbie, to answer a question you have asked me on several occasions...THAT is why I have no respect for journalists.

Here's the article:

I saw a Christmas commercial on t.v. last week, and I wanted to find the nearest pencil and jam it into my ear. Christmas isn't a holiday anymore. It's an institution. It's a business as big as Starbucks, McDonald's, Microsoft, and Disney all rolled into one gigantic ball of plastic smiles and fake happiness.

It's only supposed to happen once a year, but we know better. Christmas sneaks in earlier each time around. First we had Santa right where he should be, sitting happily in his sleigh for the last few weeks of December. Next we had whispers of reindeer and elves at Thanksgiving. After a while, we started seeing kids dress up as Rudolph and Mrs. Claus for Halloween, and now we have idiots hanging Christmas lights just after labor day, planning their decorations to match the leaves as they change color.

The Christmas season is now almost a quarter of a year. That’s a longer lifespan than your average grasshopper.

Pretty soon we'll see Santa sticking his fat ass into summer barbecues, March Madness, Easter. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around we'll have out-of-control snipers taking potshots at the big guy during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We'll have effigies and protests, and ritualistic Santa hunts involving double barrell shotgun toting rednecks stalking mall Santas at shopping megaplexes, laying out the carcasses on the third floor of the parking garage to clean and dress the kill.

“Look here, Mary Sue,” they’ll say. “I shot me ten Santas. Call the kids in from the mud harvest. We’s eatin’ good this year!”

What happened? When did Christmas turn from a regular holiday into a culturally accepted, cannibalistic religion celebrated by excessive debt and self-immolation? Has our culture really sunk this low? Do we work like frenzied dogs all year just to buy our friends and family expensive crap they don't want or need?

It's a disease and none of us is immune. We look at our credit slips and bank account statements each January, when sanity has returned, and we say to ourselves, "Never again." But when the weather turns cold and the leaves change color, the fever sets in again like it always does. Going broke every December doesn't dissuade consumers from buying into this feeding frenzy. All the department stores have to do is play "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Here Comes Santa Claus," and we’re off to see the wizard. Our eyes glaze over, our pulse quickens, and our battle-worn credit cards come out for yet another season of bad carnage.

We lose our minds for weeks at a time, like a heroin junkie in search of his next fix. We know what we're doing is wrong, but we can't help it. It's all in the name of fun, after all, and we tell ourselves that we deserve this, even as we spend ourselves into oblivion. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we're crazy and selfish. We spend the better part of the year either preparing for or recovering from the drunken orgy of mass consumerism, paying no heed to the problems of the rest of the world or our place in it.

Christmas is no longer just a holiday. It's the holiday. It’s no longer a celebration of one's faith and a time to bask in the joy of family gatherings, unless of course you consider two-for-one lawnmower sales in the middle of winter a heartfelt expression of Godly worship. The dilution of a joyous holiday is sickening and only goes to show how far down the drain we have come.

But never mind that now! Sears is having a special on wool socks and ratchet sets. The time has come. The fever has set in. Grab your money and let's go!

Imagine what I could have done if I'd sold my soul and become a Real Journalist(tm)!