I work in a warehouse that distributes unique designer home décor, toys and trinkets. Many of which make excellent gifts. Naturally, the holiday season comes with a vengeance.
A wicked army of monstrous expectations. No horde of ravenous, relentless zombies has ever been as terrifying. A brutal explanation of the true meaning of Christmas. The blatant, blind, naked consumerism that drives people to hack and hammer and claw their way through crowds of freezing, hostile Black Friday shoppers in the middle of the night.
How I loathe the season. When my coworkers delight in the mountain of orders I always think “I despise you, everything about you. I hate you and everybody who looks like you.” At least I hope I just think it. Since everybody is still talking to me as much as they ever were, I don’t think it has slipped out yet.
Every year I am shocked at how twisted and perverted the season has become. It isn’t about the birth of Christ, peace on Earth, goodwill toward men; it has only one goal, profit. And we all serve that single god, the bottom line.
If you have doubts about what I say take a drive down to the nearest shopping center of any size, take the best parking space you can find, it will probably be a long way from anything. Walk into a store and look, look upon the madness. See the crazed look, the anger, the determination, and the single-minded obsession smeared across the faces. There is no cheer.
And, if you are hardy enough, and I’m not, grab something, stand in line at the register and listen. The moans, sighs and recriminations, “nobody better try to cut in my line, I will rip their head off.” It may not be said, but you can feel it, you can sense it.
It is the most bellicose time of the year.
This is the holiday. Anger, avarice, insatiable, overpowering desire. Similar to the uncontrollable urges that have been described as contributing to addiction, or vampirism in modern literature. I look at the money spent from Thanksgiving to Christmas and it is incomprehensible. There is no Christmas spirit, not in the madness consuming stores, not in the tired worn faces that drag themselves home after holiday battles raging through malls and outlets.
It isn’t about giving, it’s about the battle. More to the point it is about reliving the battle, telling how hard it was to find the perfect gift.
The perfect gift, the holy grail of combat shopping. It exists outside of reality, beyond the abilities of language to describe, beyond the reach of desire. It just sits on a shelf at the end of the carnage. If you can battle through the angry scrum of shoppers and givers and Santa’s little helpers it is there for the taking. And, it hardly matters if anybody you know wants it, it is the perfect gift. It called to you and you answered, and you fought and you won, and somebody will appreciate the sacrifice you made, goddamnit.
So, I will gird up my loins, lace up my boots, and haul my tired, aching, aging body to work. And I will take things out of big boxes and put them into little boxes and send them off to be the trophy in someone’s holiday trophy hunt. Each step of the way a little more misery, a little more suffering. All of it hidden behind garish lights, red and green bunting and ridiculous displays, elves, reindeer and artificial snow cover everything. Artificial joy by the bucket load.
And, I do my part, I’m not happy about it, but you might have noticed.