It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling
You “Be of good cheer”…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all!
With those holiday greetings
And gay happy meetings
When friends come to call…
It’s the hap- happiest season of all. – Edward Pola and George Wyle
When I was a wee lass, and the song which provides today’s title and epigram was a recent holiday hit rather than a hoary standard, today would be the first day in the American calendar year that one might be likely to hear it in a public place. For most of the 20th century and perhaps earlier, the day after Thanksgiving was the agreed-upon beginning of the Christmas season in the United States; since most people (outside of retail) were off from work that day, it was a convenient opportunity to put up decorations, obtain and trim a tree or even go shopping. Macy’s department store in New York has reinforced this every year since 1924 (with the exception of 1942-44) by the inclusion of Santa Claus in its popular Thanksgiving Day parade, heralded as the “official” kickoff of Yuletide festivities.
But as the years rolled by, marketing became a science and advertising became ever more aggressive. Merchants began erecting early Christmas displays even before Thanksgiving, and were it not for Halloween’s growing popularity as an adult drinking holiday they might have broken into October by now. On November 1st every large retail chain (anxious to sweep away any lingering thoughts of mortality which might have entered less-impenetrable consumer skulls from the rare horror imagery among the sexy Muppets, sexy foodstuffs, sexy police-state functionaries and sexy superhuman serial killers) rips down the Halloween décor, shoves it into closeout bins and plasters the entire premises with red and green, fake snow, creepy Saint Nicholas caricatures, incessant Christmas and winter-themed music (including modern arrangements of the eponymous tune), and unrelenting encouragement to buy, buy, buy! But the traditional launch date hasn’t been forgotten, oh no! Now it’s become “Black Friday”, the worldwide festival of conspicuous consumption which started out as an in-joke among Philadelphia retailers in the 1960s. Thanksgiving has been reduced to a sideshow, one of the less important events of “Black Friday Week” as advertising trash infuriatingly insists on calling it; those unfortunate enough to depend on retail employment for their livelihood are forced to skip the day altogether as their employers shift “Black Friday Sales Events” back further and further into Thursday and demand that the wage-slaves be on hand to deal with hordes of drooling morons who lack the sense to stay home and enjoy the sorts of activities that Christmas songs still pretend characterize the season.
As you can probably tell, I most certainly do not approve. We’ll be spending the day as we always do: finding a Christmas tree on our property and decorating it, and having Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. Unless there’s some dire emergency, none of our vehicles are going farther than the mailbox, and we aren’t going to do any online shopping either, not today and not on the newest pseudo-event, the even-more-stupidly-named “Cyber Monday” (and no, not on Boxing Day either). I’ve already bought most of my presents, and will obtain the rest on my trip to New Orleans week-after-next; and though I do love this season for the festivities and the visiting and the gift-giving and the donations to Toys for Tots (my favorite charity), I will be staying as far away from retail establishments as is humanly possible for the next month. I also won’t be donating to the Salvation Army, who as I’ve explained before were one of the originators of “sex trafficking” hysteria and are still among its most vociferous and dishonest proponents. By all means, donate to the needy during this season of goodwill, but there are plenty of charities who manage to accomplish that without also funding crusades against human rights.