It’s the New Year. But here’s a little post-script regarding the holidays that have just passed.
We see them Boxing Day morning: queues of bundled up souls braving sub-zero temperatures in front of stores and malls everywhere, awaiting the throwing open of the retail gates for “big savings” on all manner of goods.
Yes, Boxing Day Sales have become a tradition in Canada, where so-called killer deals are to be had on so many of life’s vitally important items - toaster ovens, towel sets, blue jeans, Barbie Dolls, DVDs, computer games, and on and on.
But wait. Did I say Boxing Day Sales? I might just as well have said Boxing Week Sales, for an event once celebrated for only one day after Christmas has now extended its reach right through to the New Year in many regions of the land. And who knows, perhaps soon we can all start looking forward to Boxing Month Sales.
Why not? After all, in a culture obsessed with acquiring things, things, and more things, there is so much to buy, and so little time to buy it.
Leave aside the fact that the ostensible peace and joy of Christmas is suddenly cut short by the hum and cluck of overheated cash registers amid frenzied tug-of-wars between raging grandmothers around bargain bins. Aren’t we all, as hard-spending consumers, doing the responsible thing by greasing the wheels of our retail sector and moving the national economy forward?
Looking north, George W. Bush would understand. “Go shopping,” he once advised America in a time of national confusion.
In all seriousness folks, I think it’s time we took stock of what Christmas is really all about. I ask, what has the spirit of the season come to when we plan our giving after the fact? Can we not give our consumerism a rest, if only for a few days, once old St. Nick has come and gone?
Furthermore, just exactly what is it we hope to save here? Are we making sacrifices in relation to what we really want to purchase by going for the sorry leftovers of the pre-Christmas rush? And honestly, do we think for a moment that retailers don’t see us coming; that they merely start slashing prices randomly after the big day in hopes of luring us to their stores?
You better believe there are plenty of savvy marketing strategists out there who have made plans well ahead of time for all the “outrageously low prices.”
Perhaps we all ought to take a little history lesson here.
Boxing Day finds its historical roots in the soil of charity, not acquisitiveness. In feudal times and through the middle ages, lords would bestow gifts of food and goods to loyal, hardworking servants on this day. As well, it was a day for the distribution of alms from church collection boxes to poor parishioners.
Such traditions evolved into the Christmas baskets that some employers nowadays distribute to employees during the holiday season.
Imagine that, a Boxing Day Kindness, rather than a Boxing Day Sale.
Now that, to me, seems in keeping with the spirit of the season.