27 November 2009

Stop the World, I Need to Get Off!

When Thanksgiving ends, Christmas begins. No sooner do I finish my once-a year carnivore experience, no sooner do I fall into a tryptophan slumber, no sooner do I awaken to a sunny Friday (even if it is a bit cloud-covered), then the Christmas lights begin to appear, not merely spotting, but illuminating the various landscapes. Everywhere in all of the air, songs of Christmas waft (though not the new Bob Dylan rendition of songs of the season!) from speakers placed atop streetlights. Salvation Army Santa Clauses materialize on the corners, ringing their bells begging passers-by to fill their red buckets that hang like soup-pots over a fire. We almost rush through Thanksgiving to get to the Christmas rush, and Christmas itself becomes an afterthought, an excuse for the furor it inspires. Thanksgiving ceases to be a meaningful event, however artificial and ideological it is, and is transformed into the gateway to Christmas; Thanksgiving is the first course to the Winter Feast. New Years has become a dessert, and many, myself included, prefer to arise from the table before this final course is presented.

I remember in New York, the day following Thanksgiving, awakening to the aromatic redolence of trees on so many corners that filled the usual exhaust-imbued air with the pungent sweetness of pines, and the lights the sellers (from Vermont and New Hampshire, I hoped) threw up to illuminate their spots turned New York City streets into a perpetual daylight. Chestnuts roasting (though not on an open fire) appeared on streetcorners. Even for we Jews, there was a sensory experience to enjoy, even if we did not buy a tree or wreath, and steered clear of shopping malls on Black Friday.

But here, in the Midwest (Minnesota and Wisconsin), where the city streets do not have the same type and volume of traffic that I recall in New York City (where the avenues seem continually overrun with pedestrians and travelers and tourists) the trees tend to rest in odd, back-lot places, and are not so visible. I suppose one has to know where to look; I am not privy to that information. I buy our Chanukah lights at the local indoor Judaica.

And all of the commercials on the TV advertise holiday shopping. It is as if there is nothing to do between now and Christmas but buy gifts, and as if the whole world is created to ensure the accomplishment of this purpose. There were lines at 4:00am this morning to begin the holiday spending spree.

To my mind, it is one, long, downhill dizzying plunge from Thanksgiving to Christmas; we get up from our tables Thanksgiving eve, and we hold our breaths as we roar through to the ride’s end. It is as if we find ourselves inexplicably and involuntarily on this vast roller coaster, and at Thanksgiving we round the top of the ascent and start down in a stomach-turning descent.

It takes us to Valentine’s Day to recover.

This is a rant, and should be taken as one. Though there may be not a little truth in it.


Anonymous FriendBK said...

Ah, but some of us sing and make merry, rather than shop!

14 December, 2009 11:47  

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