There is a battle raging, and tonight I am on the front lines. I soldier on from trench to trench, lost in the moment, my bearings thrown by the clatter and the flashing lights. I no longer know where I am. War is hell.
This particular war is a lonely struggle, a struggle in which the advancement of one side against the other is almost imperceptible, the creep measured over decades. Victory of one side is not defined by the surrender or elimination of the other side; it is defined by something less dramatic – a whimper of resignation.
On the front lines of the War on Christmas Shopping, it is clear that the Internet is winning the hearts and minds of the people. The simple pleasure of Christmas shopping as depicted in any number of Rockwell prints is dying. The romance of store-to-store Christmas shopping has been eviscerated by the reality of too many choices but never what you want. Attempts at customizing and personalizing merchandise for every potential micro-demographic that happens to wander inside of 4 walls have not led to more satisfied consumers in the malls. It has led to clutter, and clutter should never be confused with choice. To provide too many choices is to kill the ability to make a choice. Down one aisle and up the next, everything looks good but nothing looks right. I can’t decide.
Here at the front, the lines are long and the tempers are short. Here, it is biting cold outside while oppressively hot inside. Here, we can only buy what we can touch at the price on the sticker, instead of buying anything at all at the confirmed lowest price in the world. Out here, the cacophony of clutter includes too many people and not enough Peace on Earth.
Yesterday, we weakly fought the War to End All Wars, the War Against the Commercialization of Christmas. Commercialization won in a rout. Now Commercialization is teaming up with Dehumanization to finish the job. A Very Merry Christmas no longer needs twinkling lights, display windows filled with cottonball snowmen, and disinterested cashiers with droopy Santa hats. All that is required is a broadband connection, a working credit card and an adult beverage for companionship. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la la la to you too, buddy. That was my parking space!
Going out of the house to Christmas shop is a messy, inefficient business. But I will miss it when it’s gone.
There is something special that goes into a gift that you have to struggle to find. There is something special about a gift option that finds you. There is something special about enduring the sharp elbows, the tired feet, and the friendly glares of the hired seasonal help as you asking them to please check in the back for another size. There is something special about buying that perfect gift on impulse instead of checking 20 websites for an even lower price first. I don’t mind paying more when I can experience the thrill of a successful hunt.
I’ll miss it when it’s gone, but for today, I think I’d rather be home.
Time to check out.