Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Peeves!

Call me an old Scrooge, but here are some of my PET PEEVES about the Christmas Season:

1) The Little Brass Bell
- The Salvation Army is a very worthy organization. The number of folks they help during the holidays and all year long for that matter, prove that. But I must say, I get so damned tired of hearing THAT LITTLE BRASS BELL being ding-a-linged, I could pull out me hair! It isn't the idea that there's a real ARMY of folks standing on street corners and in malls collecting money. Like I said, they're a very worthy charity and I give something most every time I pass one of the collection pots. But the incessant ringing of the bell! Sure it draws attention, but the sound of the thing, especially indoors, permeates the air and goes through my head like a hot knife through butter. No doubt some would say the reason it goes through my head is that there's nothing in the way to stop it. Be that as it may, the sound irritates me, sets my teeth on edge. It is so annoying I have actually told the person ringing the bell that I'll only donate if they QUIT RINGING THE DAMNED THING until I'm out the door or out of earshot! No bell ringer has respected my request so far, but I still put the money in the pot. Our church volunteers to do this bell-ringing every year. My wife does it, many folks do. I don't. I have made my feelings known, and they don't bother asking anymore. So call me a Scrooge, call me a stick-in-the-mud, or any other name you want. I still can't stand the sound of that brass bell!

2) Christmas Carols - Every year, the same old songs. Over and over again. This in itself would be bad enough, but there's always some joker singing a carol that thinks they have to embellish the bejeezus out of it. A simple melody is transformed into a vehicle for their astounding vocal gymnastics. Crap! Just sing the damned song, will ya? To be fair, it isn't the songs. It's the endless repetition of them. No matter where you go, you hear them. The bank, the grocery store, the dentist, the doctor. These 'joyous noises' creep into my head like an annual fungal infection of the auditory system whose only cure is the passing of the season. I can't even sit out in my car while the wife shops without hearing the damned things. And after being bombarded with them day in and day out, people STILL buy recordings of them? Enough already!

3) Holiday Shoppers - It begins on the infamous 'Black Friday'. No, not the crash of the stock market in '29. The day after Thanksgiving. Stores open early, one opened up at 4:00AM near us. People (or rather WILD ANIMALS THAT SEEM LIKE PEOPLE) line up long before the doors open. The prey? Bargains! It's like watching a feeding frenzy of pirhanas. I avoid stores on Black Friday like the plague when I can, but this year a refill for medication (which I forgot to get earlier) necessitated me going. I waited until 5:00 PM, and by then the teeming throng had dwindled. The shopping center looked like the aftermath of a pinata-busting party. Tables that only hour before were heaped with bargains now only held the pawed-over remains. And again to be fair, it isn't the idea of getting a gift for someone that annoys me so. It is the lengths people will go to 'prove' they care about someone, that they will subject themselves to these horrors and become part of the horror themselves. But there is one part of Holiday Shopping I relish. I try to make it to the local shopping mall on Christmas Eve. About 2 hours before closing time. I willingly fight to get a parking spot, wedge my way in the door, but not to shop. To observe. I jump into the first empty seat on a shopping mall bench, and just watch. The noise, the bustle, the tension, on occasion the downright brutality of the johnny-come-lately shoppers on Xmas Eve is a study in human behavior. Every psychologist should have to do it. It's a real eye-opener. Sometimes it gets ugly, and makes Black /friday look like a tea party. I try to stay until all the stores are closed, and mall security is hustling what;s left of the human wreckage out the door. If I'm fortunate enough to be the last one out the door (it's happened on occasion), I give thanks for the incredible peace and quiet after all the broohaha.

4) The Day After Christmas - If the start of the holiday selling season is called Black Friday, what should we call the end of the season? you know, the day when everyone wants to exchange or get a refund for all the crap that they got that is either the wrong size or not what they wanted. The day when the lines at the service desks and exchange counters are so long and wide they look like some sort of horrible anaconda from hell. I can't think of a word or term that is appropriate, but it is a sight to behold. If you ever have the chance to be an outside observer of this phenomenon (if you are a part of the anaconda, you'll get no sympathy from me) the same people that made up the throngs on Black Friday make up the length and breadth of the anaconda. Is there something nefarious going on here? Are these humans merely unthinking cogs in a vast corporate conspiracy to deprive them of their money, dignity and time (mostly their money)?

These complaints but scratch the surface. But if I go any further, I'll have to rant about those who complain about The Holidays. I'm not going there. I refuse to call myself such names. I also will not wish everyone the usual seasonal greetings. But I will wish that you all have a Restful Christmas, and a Peaceful New Year. Those are the things I want for myself, and for everyone.

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