Actually, to find out more about Festivus, check out my friend Laura's blog. It sounds really fun. One of the things I particularly liked was the idea of airing grievances, so I thought I'd take advantage of the Festivus tradition to air a few grievances of my own.
- Folksy Softeners: I saw a sign in the mall by Santa's workshop that read Folks, no private cameras and it got me wondering about that word Folks, and how it gets used when you want to soften the message you are about to impart. As if prefacing with Folks makes it acceptable to get away with saying something people won't like. As if saying it makes you avuncular, hearty, one of them. You're the jovial uncle saying put those cameras away for now - we don't need them here instead of the hard nosed business wanting to scrape every nickel it can out of Christmas shoppers and children eager to sit with Santa for a moment.
- Nothing for Christmas: When I ask you what you'd like for Christmas and you say nothing, that just having your friends and family around is enough, I smile. I get that. We all do. But assume for a moment that if I am asking you, it is because I am going to buy you a Christmas present and have no clue what you would like. If you absolutely refuse to help me out, you are going to get something you don't want which doesn't make sense for either of us. What I really want to hear is Having my family and friends around is enough, but I'd really like the new Tom Clancy book out in paperback or a chocolate orange. Thank you.
- Holiday Trees: No, no, no, no, no. It's a Christmas tree. Always has been. Don't try to change it. And while we're on the subject, why does political correctness always take the fun out of everything. It takes the sublime (whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan or Kwanzaa) and reduces it to a bland mass of homogeneity with no heart or soul. We shouldn't live in a world where we're afraid to say Merry Christmas for fear of offense. Crazy.
- Advertising: I know this is the biggest season for stores. And they need to make money. But honestly, does Christmas advertising have to be so abrasive and in-your-face. You want. You need. You should have. You must buy. Buy $100 now and we'll give you a free coupon for $5 off your next purchase of $100 or more. Wow. Thank you so much. Now I love Christmas shopping - buying the right gifts for people. But the ads drive me crazy. They start early, ramp up to a pre-Christmas frenzy, and then - in case that's not enough - start in on Boxing Week (and when did Boxing Day expand to 7!). My least favourite ads - the ones that really make smoke come out of my ears - are the ones that air right after Christmas. Didn't get what you want? Auntie Ida send you another boring scarf again? You deserve more. Come in and buy ....etc. Um, isn't Christmas about other people, not yourself? And Aunt Ida probably put thought into that scarf (or you told her you wanted nothing, see point 2 above), so making fun of my relatives who tried to do something nice for me is just going to tick me off.
- Gift Cards: This kind of ties in. And I know they have a purpose, especially for those far away. I often tuck an I-tunes or Subway gift card in for those who will use them. And I have one child who loves gift cards because they can put them in a wallet and carry them around (like Mommy's credit card). But really, gift cards are a cop out. If you don't have the time or inclination to sit down and really think of something someone will love, maybe that person should not be on your Christmas list at all. I know gift cards are convenient, but they suck the soul out of the joy of Christmas giving. Why not just give cash? Or - easier yet - we all keep our own money, and go out on Boxing Week and buy ourselves the things we really want.
Now. Back to that Christmas Spirit!