The shopping malls are filled with children screaming for toys, disgruntled parents looking for the closest possible exit and mall employees wishing everybody would die … or at least leave their store.
Mothers are trampling each other to get their hands on the hottest items this year like Playstation 2 or something like that. In two weeks, they’ll be giving each other black eyes for the last pair of mismatched slippers.
After two seasons of working in a retail toy store, I’ve come to realize the Holidays bring out the worst in people despite denomination or religious affiliation. This year was my first year free from working Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the Holiday shopping season officially begins.
Last year, I worked all night in preparation for the big 6 a.m. opening meticulously stacking board games in elaborate displays only to see my hard work destroyed by a woman, who obviously wasn’t accustomed to getting up before sunrise, and her runaway shopping cart. I’ve seen children pull at each other’s hair attempting to get the last pack of Pokemon trading cards or the last peeing baby doll. From a retailer’s perspective, it seems silly. From the perspective of someone free from religious obligations, it seems sillier.
The Holidays, I am told, are of extreme religious significance and reflection. Many pile into churches to sit through long masses and participate in prayer and follow up by gorging themselves on ham and mashed potatoes.
What about those of us who skip church and go straight to the dinner table? What about the atheists and the agnostics who would rather skip the holly and the mistletoe and go straight on through the year without seeing It’s a Wonderful Life or hearing the Chipmunks’ “Christmas Song”?
According to a survey done by Prevention Magazine and MSNBC, 41percent of those polled suffered from what is referred to as “Holiday Stress”. The same poll reported that 11 percent found Holiday shopping as stressful as a job interview. The question remains, why? If the Holiday season is a time for rejoicing, why are people pulling out their hair?
Perhaps I’ve seen the wrong side of Christmas. The only thing I look forward to is eating cookies at my friend’s aunt’s house, proving that family is all in what one makes of it. I could do without the presents and the How the Grinch Stole Christmas marathon. I could do without the trees. Mind you, I have one, but not because I wanted one. One day I went home and it was there, completely decorated and sharing the same plug as my coffeemaker. I now have to turn on the tree and the fiber optic Santa tree topper to make my much needed morning cup of java. This is not what I need first thing in the morning – Santa’s bioluminescent face staring at me as I hunt for the half and half.
Once finals end, it’s off to the mall where I will fight my way through crowds of gift hungry people in search of three gifts. I know where they are. I know what each one costs and once I procure these items I’m gettng out and driving away as fast as my car will take me.
What else is an integral part of December? Holiday parties, of course. What company or organization would be complete with a politically correct non-denominational Holiday party? For those of you who may never have been to one, this is how it works: a bunch of people who have stabbed each other in the back all year long get together, eat and drink. Drinking is the key part. The first thing they look for is the bar. I know. I’m the bartender who, after a couple hours, hears all about the corporate betrayal, matrimonial infidelity, who’s getting laid off and otherwise sob story after sob story. If anything, it makes you feel better about your life.
So, in the words of everybody’s favorite fat man, Happy non-denominational Holiday to all and to all a good night.