Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's only 'Shopmas' if you let it

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 2013— I like Christmas. I don't like Shopmas. I had not heard of this term before I read this column in The Washington Post today, but it fits the situation perfectly.

With all due respect to my conservative Christian friends, I don't think it is people saying "Happy Holidays" that constitutes a War on Christmas(TM). Whatever war there was on Christmas was fought and lost back in the late 1800s when the gift-giving and Santa Claus-y stuff started taking control.

This year, I think, a new boundary has been crossed and obliterated. It's the Shopmas incursion on Thanksgiving, one of the last fairly pure holidays we have in this country. This year Shopmas crossed the Thanksgiving midnight barrier and bled well into the day of rest itself. Thanksgiving, not "Black Friday," is now the official start of the Shopmas lunacy.

Who are these people that fall for the Shopmas hype, that go for the doorbuster deals and camp out and stampede, and all that other stuff we see on the news? Why is shopping news anyway?

The commercials are especially insidious this year, whether they are Walmart's endlessly repeated ads or Target's "be a better competitive shopper than everyone else" offerings. The point seems to no longer be giving gifts to those you love, but beating those you love at at the gift-giving competition.

What competition? Are real people actually in competition with each other to see who can have the most perfect season of excess? To be the most clever at shopping? I am not sure I know people like this, but they sure seem to be all over the TV ads.

Some day I would like to see wide swaths of Americans rejecting the Shopmas hype, dialing it back, and living more sanely. Perhaps this is already happening, but it is not getting noticed through all the hype of our retail industrial complex.

For myself, I am focusing on Advent this year. Preparing myself quietly for the coming of hope into to our human mess, once again. I am reading the passages from Isaiah, the Gospels, and yes, the apocalyptic verses that are part of the Advent Lectionary but often get overlooked. Because with the coming of the infant Messiah, one of our tasks is to remember the second coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord he brings with him.

I'll buy some gifts, and decorate my house, and be with my family, yes. But it's only Shopmas season if you let it. I'm not going to let it. A quiet protest, focusing on where my hope lies, is how I plan to spend the next four weeks.

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