12.24.2017

i hate christmas 2017: the return of a wmtc tradition and then some

Last year, I took a break from my annual "i hate christmas" post. I don't remember the circumstances, but it was probably related to getting ready for our trip to Egypt. We lost Tala a few days later, but for better or worse, we were ignorant of that until the day before.

This year I revive the fine wmtc tradition and then some.

I did a stupid thing and it caused me to remember just how much I hate Christmas, like a sharp slap in the face: I went to the mall.

Yes, after all my years of not stepping foot in any store for any nonessential shopping during the holiday madness, I found myself in a gigantic mall, three days before Christmas, in the afternoon. My hair salon happens to be in the mall. I normally go there first thing in the morning and am well clear by the time it is the slightest bit busy. But I waited too long to make an appointment, and I can't wait until January... and thus I ended up in a mall, the Friday before a Monday Christmas, at 4:00 in the afternoon.

I took a cab to avoid the frustration of trying to find parking. So all I did was walk from the entrance to hair salon, sit through the crowded, noisy, Christmasy hair experience, then walk from the salon to the exit. That was enough. The mobs of people, walking apparently in slow motion, laden with packages, gawking at every window. Large groups of teens and 20-somethings, dressed like store-window mannequins, clearly there to be seen. (This is a thing!) Screaming children and exhausted parents of every description. Happy couples looking like they are out for a stroll. In the mall! Recreational shopping.

In our incredibly multicultural environment, I have to wonder how many of these families celebrate only the North American consumerist version of this winter holiday, and have no religious connection to it at all.

I personally will spend a lovely December 25 and 26 with my favourite people (one human, one canine), food, drink, movies, books, puzzles, and maybe a trip to the dog park. But damn, it is out there, and it is scary!

I'm not even going to explain why I hate Christmas so much. Writing this post, I took a trip down memory lane. It's all there, and it's more relevant than ever.

6 comments:

allan said...

From the beginning of an old Joy of Sox post from December 25, 2007:
"Stephen Nissenbaum, in his fascinating cultural history of Christmas - The Battle For Christmas - shows us the long-past traditions of the holiday in the United States: 'excess, disorder, and misrule ... heavy drinking, and loose sexual activity'."

Also, this from December 23, 2011: "The Boston Anticks: 'Occupy Christmas'":
"I demand a return to the traditional Christmas of the 18th and 19th centuries - the kind of Christmas that had led the Puritans to suppress and then outlaw the holiday: rowdy public displays brought on by excessive drinking, the mocking of established authority, the invasion of private, wealthy homes, and aggressive forms of begging (to the point of physical harm)."

This second post, mostly taken from the book mentioned in the first post, is a must read:

"By 1820 Christmas misrule had become such an acute social threat that respectable New Yorkers could no longer ignore it or take it lightly. ... [B]ands of roaming young street toughs, members of the emerging urban proletariat, were no longer restricting their seasonal reveling to their own neighborhoods; they had begun to travel freely, and menacingly, wherever they pleased. Often carousing in disguise (a holdover from the old tradition of mumming), these street gangs marauded through the city's wealthy neighborhoods, especially on New Year's Eve, in the form of callithumpian bands, which resembled (and may have overlapped with) the street gangs that were now vying for control of the city's poorer neighborhoods. Throughout the night these bands made as much noise as they could, sometimes stopping deliberately at the houses of the rich and powerful. ...

In 1828 there occurred an extensive and especially violent callithumpian parade, complete with the standard array of "drums, tin kettles, rattles, horns, whistles, and a variety of other instruments." This parade began along the working-class Bowery, where the band pelted a tavern with lime; then it marched to Broadway, where a fancy upper-class ball was being held at the City Hotel; then to a black neighborhood, stopping at a church where the callithumpians "demolished all the windows, broke the doors [and] seats," and beat with sticks and ropes the African-American congregants who were holding a "watch" service; next, the band headed to the city's main commercial district, where they smashed crates and barrels and looted at least one shop; still unsatisfied, they headed to the Battery (at the southern tip of the city), where they broke the windows of several of the city's wealthiest residences and tried to remove the iron fence that surrounded Battery Park; finally they headed back to Broadway for a second visit. ...

[In 1828, there occured in New York a] New Year's Eve parade in which more than a thousand "persons of all ages" marched down "many of the principal streets of the city" committing "outrageous" acts. The mob moved from one end of the city to the other, making the most hideous noises, committing many excesses, and for several hours in succession, disturbing neighborhoods where they thought proper to become in some measure stationary, to such a degree that sleep and rest, for the sick or for the well, were entirely destroyed. No nocturnal tumult or disturbance that we have ever witnessed, was in any measure equal to this. ... To read the city's newspapers at mid-century is to encounter upbeat editorials about Christmas shopping and the joyous expectations of children juxtaposed with unsettling reports of holiday drunkenness and rioting. ..."

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Amy said...

I hate malls under ANY circumstance, and the thought of going to one during the holiday season (which starts earlier and earlier all the time) is enough to make me want to vomit! The day online shopping became available was a happy day for me.

But I guess there's no way to get your hair cut online yet... Fortunately for me, my hairdresser is in a salon around the corner from where I live! No malls, no traffic, no parking hassles.

Hang in there---it's almost over.

johngoldfine said...

Your post sounds so old-timey to this USAian--all our local malls are either bankrupt or soon- to-be-bankrupt ghost-towns. You Canadians with the traditional Christmas mall excesses!

laura k said...

Thanks, Amy. I know we have this in common! I ditto everything you said. Except this mall is around the corner from me. It's very near where I live and work, a giant complex in central Mississauga. That's why I was able to take a quick cab there, to avoid the parking nightmare.

John, that is a sobering thought. Everyone in Mississauga appears to be spending money hand over fist. Only in the library do we see the folks who are left out of this pretty picture.

Amy said...

Laura, I don't think John meant that people here aren't spending a ton of money on Christmas---they are, but not at malls as much as they once did. The mall closest to where we live is a ghost town. The two anchor stores---Macy's and JC Penny---both closed at that mall, and many of the smaller store fronts are gated and have been for quite a while. The larger mall about ten miles away is still going strong, however. But many, many malls are being abandoned as brick-and-mortar stores find they can't compete with Amazon and online shopping in general.

It's all our fault. :)

laura k said...

Thanks Amy. I knew what John meant. :)