Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Holiday creep is observable in at least two aspects: (1) those who can (i.e., those with enviable employment benefits) use additional time off on adjacent workdays to create 4-, 5-, or 6-day holiday spans, and (2) businesses that sell to the public mount incessant sales campaigns that demand everyone’s attention and participation as good American consumers. Since I’m a Bah! Humbug! sorta fellow, these expansive regions of the calendar take on the characteristics of a black hole, sucking everything into their gravity wells and crushing the life out of any honest sentiment left to cynics and curmudgeons like me. We’re in the midst of one such holiday span, and my inclination (beyond appreciating the time off from work) is to hide away from bustle and obligation. Nonetheless, I show up and participate in some small measure.

Here in Chicago, trains and buses going to the Loop (the downtown business district) are less heavily trafficked at rush hours for several days before the actual holiday. However, I suspect the Blue Line to O’Hare and the Orange Line to Midway are both quite busy with travelers on the move. This is traditionally the holiday when people visit family for feasting and afternoon naps (or football games, I’m told). I’ve braved air travel at this time only a couple times, which is more miserable than usual due to congestion and weather-related delays. My workplace was a ghost town not only on the eve of the holiday for days in advance. Is it only my memory is that the eves of Christmas and New Year’s Day used to be the only ones that were celebrated? Now many expect to be released early from work prior to any observed holiday. Again, this is a benefit not evenly shared across the population and one I do not take for granted.

Feeding and shopping frenzies associated with holidays are well established traditions. However, subtle shifts to the shopping side are occurring that signal either welcome change or dying tradition, depending on one’s perspective. For instance, in the past few years, it’s been customary to learn of shoppers cued outside various superstores who stampede, trample, and fight like barbarians once doors are flung open. That ugly prospect is apparently disappearing, at least according to this report, as shoppers move away from brick-and-mortar venues to online shopping. Still, one acquaintance of mine relished the chance to among those multitudes and joked about trampling others to score a great deal on a comforter.

Similarly, some recognize the ecological impact of overconsumption (related to overpopulation) and have called for a ban to Black Friday sales, and presumably, other perverse incentives. This second development fits my thinking as I’ve blogged repeatedly how we’re awash in refuse and debris from our own past consumption. Still, my e-mail inbox has been positively pummeled by those few retailers in possession of my address who preview their Black Friday sales for weeks beforehand then offer forgiveness and second chances afterwards. The stink of desperation is on them, as business news organs report that holiday sales account for an impressively large percentage of annual sales but are threatened by fewer shopping days between the two anchor holidays this year (Thanksgiving falls late in the month). While that may have its effect, I daresay the larger problem is income inequality and the absence of positive bank balances among an ever-growing segment of the population. Debit balances on credit cards have already fueled about as much overconsumption as most can stomach.

Does it truly feel like the “most wonderful time of the year” on reflection and honest assessment? There is still enjoyment to be had, certainly. But unless one is an innocent child protected from the harshness of reality or otherwise living under a rock, every holiday decoration is tinged with knowledge of excess and suspicion that this year may finally be the last one we enjoy fully before things spin out of control. For a couple others of my holiday-themed blog entries (less dour perhaps than this one), see this and this.

Color-Coded Holidays

Posted: June 16, 2019 in Culture
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Considering the over-seriousness of most of my blog posts, here’s something lighter from the archives of my dead group blog.

Creative Destruction

Today’s holiday (Valentine’s Day) got me thinking about how the various major holidays scattered over the calendar are associated with specific colors and behaviors. The granddaddy of ’em all, Christmas, is the Red Holiday, which is associated with spending yourself into debt to get gifts for everyone and drinking rum-spiced eggnog. (The birth of Christ is an afterthought for most of us by now.) Valentine’s Day is the Pink Holiday and is for spending money on one’s sweetheart to demonstrate the level of one’s appreciation/sacrifice. Sorry, no drinking. Easter is the Yellow Holiday, probably pastel, and is for chasing colored eggs and purchasing baskets of goodies. Oh, and the risen saviour. Again, sorry, no drinking (unless you count sacramental wine.) The Green Holiday is St. Patrick’s Day, and is for drinking. Some wear some bit of green clothing, but it’s mostly about the drinking.

The Blue Holiday is…

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The Calculus of Christmas

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Consumerism, Culture, Economics, Tacky
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Here is something I’ve never done before: go into my blog archive and bring something forward. The original post went up in Dec. 2006 and since then received fewer than 30 direct views. (The number of passive views when it was visible on the homepage is unrecorded.) I’ve kept the primary link but updated the second one. Otherwise, the blog has not been rewritten. The original has been deleted.

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