Sunday, December 5, 1999

It needs to be stopped.

Holidays are such an interruption to the routines I love so much. If you're a typical Amerikan with nothing to look forward to except retirement, I'm sure they're great. Or if you're a little kid, of course. But I personally would like to see it stopped. Grinch, huh? No, I don't think he would have been doing what he was doing if he fully understood it. Stopping Christmas would be in everyone's best interests. It's just gotten out of hand, and can only get worse.

The day after Thanxgiving, and the Self-Replicating Buying Machines are out in force, wandering around aimlessly, looking for things to buy or eat. Following each others' movements like cattle, and following the flashing lights like moths. They bitch about the crowds and the traffic, while they could have done the same shopping two days earlier and spared themselves the trouble. Do they really lower the price when they have a "sale"? Is the inconvenience of non-sale prices really that much worse than the inconvenience of crowds and traffic? Apparently ev'rybody and their fucking dog thinks so. They'll do this for a whole month.

They hit the roads in a bad mood, convinced that the only way they'll get where they're going is through offensive driving. It's a madhouse out here! I gotta show 'em who's bad! Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile! I'm gonna be courteous to nobody! Then they decide that me and my bicycle are in their way. The way I see it, if I'm travelling the same route I take every day with relatively little resistance, and then all of a sudden it's Shopping Day, and you're crossing my path, then you are in my way. A point I had to prove to several motorists this season, by threatening to scratch their paint job with my bike and body.

Yeah, every shopper out there with an armload of Pokemon shit has complaints like I do, about the traffic and everyone else's bad attitudes. I have more of a problem with the level of Christmastime hate not because it impedes by shopping progress, but because I don't see a good reason for this holiday happening in the first place. How did this thing go from being a simple Christian holiday, to being an excuse for the owners of every local business to put on a Santa suit and say, "Ho ho ho, this is where Santa shops!"? How did people end up making themselves miserable and broke to participate in a holiday that, if they really thought about it, they would realize that they haven't enjoyed in years? The reason is guilt. Guilt engineered by the advertising departments of just about every retailer in the country.

There's a Fred Meyer commercial on for this x-mas season. Their motto for now is "The Joy of Giving". What, are they giving something away? Nope. They must mean, "The Joy of Giving Stuff You Bought From Us". Who can't see through this? People who watch TV for two or more hours a day in an Alpha state. Most of Amerika's population, that is.

So what's this year's Cabbage Patch toy? I haven't actually heard yet. Must be Pokemon crap. Whatever it is, you can bet all the Good Little Boys' & Girls' moms are out beating the shit out of each other to get one. Christmas Spirit becomes a competition. People make themseves unhappy, form themselves into crowds and try to take out their frustrations on each other. Angry robots with credit cards.

I've been becoming interested in this concept of "Holiday Blues". I've seen list after list of ways to beat these "Holiday Blues", and not one of them offers the best suggestion: Quit celebrating Chrismas. Prob'ly one of the biggest reasons this happens is because of the Christmas celebration. The ideal dreamworld in the "Joy of Giving" commercial just doesn't happen. So you have your own life, and then you have a carpet-bombing of this commercial to compare it with. It's bound to be depressing. The realization that it's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, and it still sucks. It doesn't get any better than this. Heap on top of that the guilt factor, the fact that you're running out of money, your job that's prob'ly twice as hectic as usual, and that the weather isn't even worth leaving the house for. Then someone on TV news drags out the old Christmas filler story to remind you about the "Holiday Blues". You know, now that they mention it, I do seem to get depressed during the holidays. I wonder if it will happen this year. Well, it'll happen the first time you can't find a good parking space at the mall.

Christmas in Boise

It's that time of year again. A tree grows to its fullest potential; its height of glory. Then it gets chopped down and dumped in a landfill. But for about a month in between, it gets decorated, covered with plastic tinsel and maybe some plastic foam (rendering it un-recyclable) and placed in some human's living room for a few weeks.

In Boise, one of the larger of these trees gets placed in front of the Idaho capitol building for you to look at. Is that too far from where you live? For your convenience, three blocks away, in the area called the Grove, there's another similar one. As an added bonus, the Grove tree is always augmented with Plywood Presents. Maybe they look charming from a distance, but get close and brace yourself for knotholes, splinters, warping plywood and a sloppy paint job. Even the "bows" on the Plywood Presents are made of wood.

Not enough dead trees for you? Would you rather pay admission to look at trees? Well, since you're in the Grove already, the Festival of Trees is right through that door over there. If you're not from Boise it might sound like I'm making this up (or it could be a franchised event for all I know). This is real, and it seems like something that only a Boisean could fall for. Here's the general scheme: you pay money and you look at Christmas Trees. That's it. Pay money. Look at trees. It's a tree zoo, except that the trees are dead.

Instead of taking animals from their habitat, we take the trees from theirs. We take the habitat from the animals. Then we make these trees as un-tree-like as possible, show 'em off and throw 'em out. And if you can charge some money in there somewhere, all the better.

One year I remember walking through the Grove during the Festival of Trees, and seeing an ice sculpture in death throes. It was obviously a block of ice that had been shaped by humans, but had melted beyond recognition by unseasonably warm weather. We stood around, enjoying the way it looked, appreciating entropy's influence on the work, while Boise people of all varieties walked by. Each one that stopped long enough to look said something like, "Hmm. Must have been nice, whatever it was." Then they'd move on. Interesting that they'd stop in the first place.

Bonefish Sam has been referred to as a "grinch", yet has been unable to sucessfully steal Christmas. He rides a Schwinn.

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