Between crass consumerism, headaches from participating in crass consumerism, news about another bailout to the nation’s richest 1%, and another baseball off-season dominated by reckless spending by the Yankees and Red Sox, there are plenty of reasons to greet this season with a resounding “bah humbug.”
It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about Super Bowl, summer, or Shark Week. I’m talking about Christmas – the most horrible time of the year. Why, you ask? It’s a rare opportunity for the collective greed and gluttony in America to openly feast upon the less fortunate, laying bare the myth of the so-called American Dream directly before our television-glazed eyes in a move of audacious hypocrisy.
In light of recent events unfolding on several fronts, this year’s orgy has been rendered even bitterer than years past. The wealthy just received their Christmas gift a few weeks early by one of the most unlikely St. Nicks—alleged champion of the middle class, “Democratic” President Barack Obama—in the form of continued tax cuts (unpaid for, over the next two years). Couple that with impending budgetary cuts to services upon which poor, working and middle class families rely, the Ebenezer Scrooge contingent have much to celebrate this hallowed holiday season. Working class slobs will be called upon yet again to shoulder the burden, make sacrifices, and continue to spend money at Christmas to “keep the economy afloat.” That’s code language for “keep the rich wealthy.”
I don’t want to delve too much into the politics of the Bush-Obama Tax Holiday for the richest 1 percent of Americans. I should have known better than to think Mr. Hope and Mr. Yes We Can was anything but another in a long line of smooth-talking politicians willing to disregard the populace who assisted in putting him into office in favor of those that truly punched his ticket to the White House—the ultra-wealthy campaign donors. No, this was beyond the realm of reason or explanation for a guy with his supposed reform agenda. But to avoid going off on a tangent of dumbfounded rage, let’s move on. There are plenty of other examples that occur each year to sufficiently quash the holiday spirit.
First, a Christmas Tale
For Bob Cratchit, it was in a brisk winter’s afternoon he first felt the uplifting rush of Christmas setting in. Wispy, faded intonations of a carol wafted through the bustling town square as he took care to drop a few extra bills into the frozen, bell-ringing Salvation Army woman’s crimson container. Met with a warm “Merry Christmas” from the hypothermic lady with the bleeding heart, Mr. Cratchit returned her sentiment with a sincere twinkle in his eye as he veered toward the offices of Scrooge and Associates — his office of more than twenty years.
Upon entering, Bob immediately knew something was wrong. The monthly board meeting had just concluded and its members, a jovial lot of well-to-do lawyers and civic leaders, turned somber when they saw Cratchit’s figure in the doorway. Recognizing the chill cast over the room, Ebenezer Scrooge, surfaced amongst the sea of sullen faces and beckoned Bob Cratchit to join him in his corner suite office for a “one-on-one.”
“Mr. Cratchit, I have good news and I have bad news. First, the bad news: despite several million dollar payoffs from the government and millions more in projected tax breaks, I’m still going to have to let you go at the end of the year. Rather than pay for your services, I am going to opt to invest in the markets again and move my cash assets to another country. The good news? You will have up to 13 additional weeks to collect unemployment from the federal government (at a penny on the dollar compared to what I got after the “big crash”). Oh, and I need you to stay late on Christmas Eve to finish our annual earnings report so that I can show our board our net profits for the year.”
A numbing fury overwhelmed Bob as he sat there, paralyzed in the oversized leather chair. Without a word, and without making eye contact with Scrooge, he stood up and began to exit the cavernous office of his former boss. Before he could leave, Mr. Scrooge barked a final word of advice to Bob: “You will probably want to get your boy, Tim, enrolled in Medicaid and have his leg looked at before they cut that off too!”
Bob wasn’t sure if Scrooge meant to say this phrase with inadvertent naivete, with pun intended, or in outright disdain of Cratchit and his family of five. However, what he knew as unequivocal fact were two things: Christmas blows and Charles Dickens was full of shit.
No, Virginia — There Is NO Santa Claus…Unless You are the Yankees or Red Sox
Each December, Major League Baseball holds its Winter Meetings in Florida, where General Managers and staff from all 30 teams convene to discuss labor issues, the general state of the game, and more importantly, engage in backroom wheeling and dealing to reload rosters for the upcoming season. While trades consume some teams, the Winter Meetings provide the venue for free agent bidding wars that almost always end up in one of three outcomes: New York Yankees sign baseball’s top free agent by offering at least $20 million more than the competition; Boston Red Sox sign free agent with $19 million more than Team X and tack on an extra year to sweeten the deal; and/or New York Mets sign free agent C to multi-million dollar contract, who is sure to be a bust.
Meanwhile, the rest of the MLB participates in the charade, only to either lose their top player to the two-headed “Skank-Sux” Monster of the East or be outbid by said monster. While these actions do not always guarantee a World Series ring for the victors, it certainly vaporizes the hopes of at least half of MLB fans and their teams months before Spring Training even begins. No, Virginia, there IS NO Santa Claus. But for many fans, there is now crying in baseball.
Have a Cup of Christmas Jeer
While politics and sports may not affect all during this holiday season, at least knowingly, most of us cannot escape the torment of Christmas shopping. Whether it is by active participation or victimized by circumstance, almost all of us suffer from the perils of crowded grocery stores, never-ending holiday-themed advertisements on TV urging us to spend, or—heaven forbid—be so unlucky as to venture to a shopping mall.
Shopping malls during the month of December are much more than retail outlets where everyday people flock to purchase gifts for loved ones. No, my friends; shopping malls are in fact bricks-and-mortar manifestations of the Ninth Circle of Hell. It is no coincidence that Santa is a weakly-veiled anagram for none other than the true embodiment of the winter holiday season in modern America: Satan. Why else do you think half of all young children begin to squeal and shriek when their parents force them to sit on his lap? Little do these mothers and fathers know that the devil clad in red has mesmerized these young ones into worshiping at his altar of greed each December for the rest of their lives; lives that will be subject to torture and misery beginning every Black Friday (again, coincidence???) at shopping malls all over America.
And of course, mothers and fathers do not realize this because they too were once cradled in Mephistophelean arms as toddlers and subconsciously relent to the annual summons to spend lavishly in honor of the birth of Christ. Instead of panic and alarm, they merely chuckle and laugh off their babies’ terror, promising to buy them a candy cane or ice cream cone if they’re good little boys and girls. Just like the wolf in fat-bearded-Nordic-men’s clothing, known by us as Santa Claus, promises all obedient children who aren’t naughty, but nice.
For those of us that no longer believe in “Santa” or care much for the spirit of the season, we may very well suffer the most. Facing no reward at the end of the tunnel in the form of a 72-inch flat screen television or even a fancy new sweater, we are thrust into the ring with the mass of gladiators who are out to hunt down the best bargains at any — and every — corner store, pharmacy, grocery store, post office and subway stop while we merely scrape for survival.
So this is truly the season to lap up an extra egg nog and toast the merits of circling down the toilet bowl for another year. Merry Christmas to all, and to all…”Bah Humbug!!!”
P.S. — Contrary to my opinions above, I like Christmas. Yay.