As the Christmas season rolls up on us—in conjunction with the end of the fourth quarter—I become more and more disenfranchised by the intrusive commercialism of the whole thing. Just this most recent Thanksgiving, I headed up to the local box retailer to see what all the fuss was about. The parking lot easily holds 500 cars…and it was full.
There wasn’t a parking spot available with twenty minutes remaining before the sales event officially began. As I walked across the lot and up to the main entrance, I saw people rushing to and fro with carts loaded with a myriad of items. One gentleman had three 50-inch smart TVs in his cart.
I grabbed an empty cart and started meandering through the main aisle. People had battleplans drawn up. I heard them talking to each other on their phones, making adjustments and offering congratulations for a successful raid. Down one aisle I noticed a Playstation 4 with three games for only $199, and I put it into my cart.
The crowds pushed in on me, and at one point, I stood in the exact same spot without moving for nearly seven minutes. It was all too much. I said, “Screw it,” leaving the cart in the middle of the aisle and threading my way to the exit. I should have said, “Bah humbug.”
Two of the greatest literary characters, in my opinion, are the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge—before they both sold out. What? How can I think that? They were selfish and conceited and thought they knew better than everyone else. Right?
Wrong. They were consistent and strong. They were nonconformists. We tell our children, just because all your friends are jumping off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to. And then we read them these two stories. Two tales about people doing just what we warn them not to. No wonder kids are so confused.
They both sold out to corporate greed and bought presents. Ebenezer spending money to buy presents didn’t help anyone…it helped merchants make their fourth quarter number. It is a marketing ploy to get you to spend money that goes into their coffers. And the Grinch didn’t really buy anything…he just returned what he had stolen.
My thoughts on the whole commercialism is why do we need a season to be nice to one another? I have the opinion that we should be that way every day. And why does being nice mean going bankrupt and beholden to commercial entities and financial institutions?
If you want to be nice to someone by buying them something and brighten their day, then buy something from a local artisan or craftsman. Or purchase it from a small farmer or Mom & Pop store.
But there may be a hidden gem within the story about the Grinch: he expected to hear them wailing and moaning for the loss of their presents. But the people of Whoville sang. See…you don’t need to go bankrupt to experience joy. You don’t have to expect others to go bankrupt just so you can receive a material item.
Last night, one of the writing groups that I am associated with had its Christmas party. We exchanged books, of course. I received two well-read and worn tomes. These weren’t new, straight off the shelf. These were titles that meant something to someone. These words had been enjoyed and loved and cherished. The person I exchanged gave me something that meant something to him personally from his own collection. Probably one of the best presents I have ever received.
WHAT I’M UP TO
WRITING: The 24 poems has grown into 32 that I am compiling for my entry into the WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook contest. The deadline is tomorrow: December 13th. I have this dangerous habit of pushing to the edge of deadlines. Perhaps I work best under pressure. I am leaning toward No One Heard Me Scream Today and Other Accessible Poetry by JC Crumpton as the title. Tami Haaland, who has served as Montana’s Poet Laureate and teaches at Montana State University, will be the judge.
FICTION: Last week, I wrote a short story that probably fell in the thriller genre. After that and watching the Jack Ryan series on Amazon Prime, I decided to read Lee Child’s seventh entry into the Jack Reacher series Persuader. In just four days, I have nearly finished it. Very exciting and on-the-edge page-turner. Reacher always seems to be getting himself into the trouble.
NONFICTION: More research into Vikings and the Inuit and Tuniit cultures. There is so much material for stories here. I can just see it now that my editor is going to be asking me to do a lot of cutting.
TELEVISION: I watched the trailer for the Hulu original series Reprisal a few weeks back and thought it might be a good show. Currently, I am three episodes into the 10-episode run. I am definitely pleased. It is very dark. Just as I like a lot of my fiction and shows. Doris had a bad run-in with her ex-husband’s and brother’s gang of gearheads. She is out for a little revenge. And she is cold.
MOVIES: Believe it or not, I have not seen any movies since the last blog. With 6 Underground being released tomorrow on NetFlix and Jumanji: The Next Level coming out in theaters, I may be seeing two in the next seven days.