Today, five days before Christmas, this little “gem” of a news item caught my eye: an Abu Dhabi luxury hotel (Emirates Palace) boasts an $11 million Christmas tree adorned with gold, rubies, diamonds and other precious stones “to boost holiday spirit”, according to its manager. Are you freaking kidding me?! Just how the jewelry hanging on a dead evergreen will boost any spirit except the feeling of utter disgust at the excess of the filthy rich while most of the world is hurting trying to cope with misery and hardship of all kind?
Here in America, old Christmas tunes such as “Jingle Bells” have new lyrics telling us to buy Snuggies or to be “dancing through the malls.” Another commercial wishes us Happy Honda Days. Interviewed first-grader when asked what she wants for Christmas shamelessly responds: “Money! So I can buy lots of things.” to the delight of her approvingly grinning parents. A middle-aged woman in red sweats sprints through a Target store in a moronic stupor. All that is aimed at getting us to hit the malls and buy, buy, and buy more, more, and more Chinese-made crap that nobody wants or needs.
It was all so different for me when I was growing up, in a different land, at a different time. The Christmas tree was put up in the afternoon of December 24 and taken down before Epiphany. The special dinner took place on Christmas Eve, with 12 dishes served exclusively on that occasion. There was always a place set at the table and an empty chair reserved for a hungry person who might wonder in (although, to my disappointment, none ever did). After dinner, the lights on the tree were lit, we would sing a few Christmas carols and the presents were opened. These were few and simple but so very special. I will never forget one Christmas when I got a pair of skates, after wanting them so badly for at least a couple of years. I was ten years old.
Today, ask any child what they got for Christmas last year and you’ll find out hardly any gift is remembered, even though an average American child receives 15 presents. Nothing is special or precious anymore. The mass hysteria of shopping starts in early September with blinking lights (made in China) and ornaments (any guess where these are made?) reminding us to start our consumers’ duty earlier and earlier every year.
I think it’s time for us to stop and think what kind of upside-down stupid world have we created, what kind of cultural legacy are we passing down to the next generations, what kind of value system is it where everything is about money, money, money.
I think it is time to rebel against the craziness of digging ourselves deeper into a financial hole every December just to do what television commercials and computer spammers tell us to do. With every purchase of athletic shoes, a sofa, bathroom tiles, faux fur coat, a toaster, a dog sweater, a set of golf clubs, … just about any item, the Chinese are laughing off their asses because the way things are going, they will own us (and everything we think we own) in just a decade or two.
I also think Emirates Palace of Abu Dhabi ought to bury their $11 million bejeweled tree under the Arabian Desert sand. Or better yet: stick it where the sun don’t shine!
Happy Shoppingdays, Y’all!