The shopping season

Here we go.

It seems like it's practically Christmas. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, communities right across North America are launching full speed into the Christmas season with ceremonies launching holiday lights, parades and window decoration unveilings. I like all of that.

What I don't like is what happens on television, on the radio, on billboards and in the shopping malls with the constant barrage of messages to buy, buy, buy... I work in commercial television and our company does benefit from seasonal advertising, of course, and I recognize the importance of the season to all businesses, television included. But its still November, for crying out loud.

I realize some people love shopping and get excited about it. I, on the other hand, am not a very good shopper. I lack ideas and creativity. But I don't mind that too much, because I find ways to come to terms with it. Over a period of a few weeks, I eventually find ways to select items for the people on my list. But what really irks me is how I feel herded and pressured, cajoled and increasingly put off by the constant barrage of advertising.

Granted, in the first week the ads sound interesting and new. But by the time Christmas Day arrives, the holiday spirit can seem like used plastic in the recycling bin.

It's spoiling the season for me. If you try to live up to the ideals portrayed in all the ads, if you listen to all of the messages (and often there is no way to avoid it), you realize pretty soon that reality never comes close. Reality starts to look a little drab in comparison, and that's a subconscious "downer".... but I have to remind myself that all of the messages are themselves an artifice, a sham of Styrofoam snow, and smiling actors who wore coats in August to record these Christmas commercials.

In order to make the season memorable, I wish we could forget about all of this crazy buying and just focus instead on connecting with people. Instead of rushing around looking for gifts and fighting the crowds, I'd like to have coffee with friends, dinners with family, and maybe, just maybe, spend some time reflecting on the origin of the season. It should be a time for some introspection and connection.

I realize we all have the power to make choices about what to do during the season, to take the best of the season and hold onto that. I know, I know. But we're caught up in a tidal wave of messaging (brainwashing?) that is getting increasingly loud and sometimes even offensive, don't you think?

The difference between the idyllic world and reality is a formula for depression in so many people. I don't want to read about domestic tragedies this year.

I'd like a warm cup of chocolate, a warm fireplace and meaningful acts of goodwill. How hypocritical we must look to followers of other faiths.

The photograph is of a church in Baranya, Hungary, courtesy of the stock.xchng.

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