A humbug for the commercialization of Christmas

It is only Nov. 27 when this is being written, but already I am turning into Scrooge. This is probably some sort of record. I think usually I've held off till Dec. 6-ish before I become the queen of the curmudgeons. But this year takes the prize for the madness that has taken over Christmas.

I was in Bartell Drugs the day after Halloween, and the clerks were carefully putting away jack-o-lanterns and witches and replacing them with candy canes and Santa Clauses. When I saw virtually no Thanksgiving decorations except for napkins and paper plates-not a pilgrim or turkey in sight-the week before Thanksgiving, I puzzled. When I saw stores advertising 4 a.m. openings, I knew. Commercial Christmas was on its way.

The catalogues, four and five a day, have left me with scratched hands and black-and-blue marks down my arms as I wiggled and twisted the daily mail out of my mailbox. Getting the load upstairs has left me with an aching back. Even as I piled the catalogues on my desk, I knew I wouldn't read half of them, and probably wouldn't buy anything from any of them.

My snit may have started when I saw that bizarre, PC version of Christmas trees, a.k.a. "winter trees," at the airport when I was returning from a trip on the first of November. Visitors arriving at SeaTac must think that Grinch is in charge of decorating the airport.

Don't misunderstand me: I truly like the lights and decorations and music. I enjoy taking an evening walk in December to admire all the colorful lights, wreaths and inflated snowmen. I just don't like it so early.

Before the business world became aware of the potential for great financial gain and turned Christmas into a shopping frenzy, the holiday was a time of sharing, of remembering people who are poor, homeless or hungry, of being with family and friends exchanging a gift or two. It began with a trip to church, where the choir sang carols and sermons were brief. You greeted everyone you saw with "Merry Christmas" as you walked to your car.

When you reached home, children at last could run across the street to show off their gift from Santa Claus whether they still believed in him or not. Christmas was gathering around the dinner table with friends and relatives and stopping for a moment to give thanks for the food and say a prayer for those who are without a home and a Christmas dinner.

My curmudgeon self wants to ask why does it have to be that way. Why should Christmas be allowed to become merely a celebration of commercialism, instead of a day of celebration with family and friends, a day to celebrate the wonder and joy of living?

If you're not a Christian, speak to your own God and thank him/her, or if you recognize no supreme being, just settle back and enjoy the trees and the lights and the joy in the air.

Scrooge has fled. Happy Christmas to one and all.

Columnist Roberta Cole can be reached through mptimes@nwlink.com.

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