Years ago I recall vividly when the
streets of downtown were brightly lit with the spirit of Christmas. The
stores were all decorated in red, gold, and green, and fresh fallen snow
blanketed everything. The sidewalks were filled with people all bundled up
in warm clothes, and carolers could be heard on the street corners. Horse
drawn sleighs with bells jingling. There truly was a magic in the air.
People were happy, having a good time strolling about, laughing, smiling, it
was the time to celebrate the blessings of life and all that was good. One
of the favorite places to shop was a clothing store, because when you went
in the scent of apple cider and cinnamon filled the air. It was free if you
wanted a hot cup of cider. And they served it in a real ceramic cup, no
Styrofoam in those days. I think you could buy all your gifts for five or
six people for under a hundred dollars. I remember a seal skin wallet was
only $5.95. And if you wanted to have it embossed in gold lettering to the
person you were giving it to, it was only a dollar or two more.
There weren't any malls or giant
chain stores. Down town shopping meant a leisure walk from store to store,
and when you got to the end of the block you crossed the street and walked
up the other side. It was just fun to window shop with a good friend by your
Often I think back on those days in
the late 50's and early 60's. One thing I remember is that the snow on the
streets and sidewalks weren't shoveled, and people weren't suing each other,
and store clerks were having a good time because customers weren't yelling
at them over some petty thing. Those were the good old days, where did they
So much has changed in such a short
time. The small shops are gone. The merchandise is cheap and over priced.
It's a time for corporate America to dump as much junk on the market as they
can. "Black Friday," it all about the almighty dollar and if sales quotas
are going to be met. A time to crunch the numbers to see if the economy is
good or bad. It's the super bowl of the giant retailers. People have
terrible attitudes, and so do the clerks in the stores. Christmas
advertising now begins in July as television networks start showing re-runs
of shows with a Christmas theme. The old magic of the holidays has been
eroded by cliché marketing and meaningless sales. Even charitable causes
such as feeding the poor has become photo-ops and promotion schemes to
generate more sales in the shopping centers. Having 'done their duty' they
can now forget the needy again until next year. These things I know to be
true because I worked in retail for 35 years. And the last eight years I
helped manage a shopping mall. And when it was time to go home after
Christmas I was totally exhausted and embittered by the whole experience.
One of the worst scams I would see run in the shopping mall was when the toy
liquidators would come in and set up shop. They would sells thousands of
cheap toys and the second the last day was over they would vanish leaving us
to deal with all the irate customers who discovered they were ripped off.
Toys that would break only after a few minutes of use would be brought back
to be be replaced or to get a refund only to find the sellers had run. Still
the profits out weighed the problems so they were brought back by the mall
year after year.
So the truth we face is that
Christmas is not like it used to be. It is unfortunate as the altruistic
intentions behind this most noble of celebrations has been bastardized by
corporate greed. Once again we have become blinded by our own acculturation
as the greed and selfishness of others have become not the exception, but
the norm. A mindset that has shadowed our good intentions from the very
inception of America. And for many millions of American citizens who were
the brunt of this mindset, Christmas is and always has been a time of
remembrance of when their ancestors suffered unimaginable agony under the
banner of Christianity. I am referring, of coarse, to the Native American
Indian. But lest we forget, there were people with good hearts and good
intentions then, as there are now. People on both sides of the river who
truly have good hearts and sincerely care about the injustices. Were it not
for these people there would be nothing of real value left in our society
for the money mongers to capitalize upon. For it has been and most likely
will always be, there is nothing that is sacred enough that some greed
driven person won't find a way to make a buck from it.
Buy into the bling-bling and you are
funding the robber barons, the Grinch who has stolen Christmas.
We wish all our friends a holiday
filled with peace, love, food to eat, shelter, and comfort. May our prayers
be for the children who are starving in this world, that they may find
comfort. May there be beauty above, below, and all around. May we not forget
the plants and animals who give of themselves every day that we may live.
Let us not take anyone or anything for granted. Let us walk our paths to
serve all our relations, that one day we may stand before Creator without