Dear Shoppers of America,
Black Friday has come and gone, and with it we have witnessed more than our fair share of the worst of humanity. The most attention-grabbing headline was the one about the woman who shot pepper spray into a crowd to defend her deeply discounted X-Box. But of course, there was a shooting in a parking lot as a family resisted a gunman trying to steal purchases, a tasing that came about because of a fistfight, and another trampling, though this one didn’t result in death. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. ‘Tis the season, I suppose.
(It is with somber relief that I have come to find that my originally-most-horrifying Black Friday tale is not as bad as its initial reports. Walter Vance, of West Virginia, collapsed in his local Target and died of heart failure at the hospital. The first stories claimed that fellow shoppers stepped over him or around him, but did not help him. Thankfully, this seems to not be the case, as the off-duty nurse who administered CPR until the ambulance arrived and happened to be shopping in the same store claims she came upon him pretty quickly and he was already surrounded by Target employees clearing the area and people trying to help. Gawker pointed out that there is no legal obligation to help someone in physical need, only a moral one, and to that I say yes, I know, and STFU because you’re not helping.)
Remember when we were all horrified by the craze for the Cabbage Patch doll?
*sigh* Things were so much simpler then.
People, we’re better than this. This is supposed to be the season for expressing peace on Earth and good will to men and all that stuff. Peace on Earth? Is not achieved by shooting people in a parking lot and strafing a crowd with scorching pepper extracts in the name of X-Box ownership. I could blame the stores—they don’t HAVE TO pound us relentlessly with ads promising everything at an unbelievable price, though that is their job. I could blame the advertising agencies who send out a beat beat beat to buy buy buy and have gotten pretty darn skillful in equating shopping with happiness. I could blame the news, who spend all of Black Friday following projected sales estimates and alternatively telling us we’re reviving the economy and fulfilling our patriotic duty by hitting the malls (or the interwebs). I could, but I won’t. That lets us off the hook and people, it’s time for a moment of reckoning.
(For the record, I can SEE that this is actually a Best Buy, but “Occupy Best Buy” doesn’t quite have the same zazz, now, does it?)
Of course we want to make our loved ones happy and of course we want to get them what they want, but are you sure this is the path to happy? Loved ones want time + an expression of interest. Do we think, “I’d love to have a conversation with the brother I don’t really talk to” or, “I have a brother I don’t talk to; I wish he’d give me a gift certificate to Macy’s so I know he loves me.” As adults, do we look back on our lives and think, “Man, if Mom and Dad had gotten me that Barbie doll in the fourth grade, I’d be so much better off right now…they should have shot someone in a parking lot to get it.”
Question: Has anyone died from not receiving something on Christmas? Of course not, and I’m ridiculous, right? Then when did the stakes become so high in the shopping?
In light of the season, I’m going to ask you all to remember these simple holiday tips:
- Going to jail to defend your holiday shopping (or, to get your hands on someone else’s holiday shopping) doesn’t make you a better parent.
- Stores and manufacturers don’t love you. They just want your money.
- Whatever the item, your loved one will survive if they don’t own it on December 25th.
- Celebrate the season by projecting good intentions, not pepper spray.
- Manners count. All the time.
- The best memories are made with you, not with the latest piece of technology that will be obsolete before you get it out of the store.
We’re all in this together, people, so let’s alter the direction this holiday season has started going down, and make it one filled with joy and peace. Let’s make this the year to start a new tradition, one of happy, healthy memories that have nothing to do with unfettered wants and neglected emotional needs. Bake the cookies, take the walks, plan the winter picnics and please, please, let the people you love know how much you love them in word and interested action. Participate in the spirit of the season because I guarantee you, that message isn’t printed on the outside of an X-Box.