The War on Christmas is a Civil War
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
~The book of Luke
And they brought forth the discounted cell phones, and displayed them in a giant bin, because they were the advertised special.
And there were in the same country, shoppers lining up in the parking lot, keeping watch over their spot all night.
And lo, the manager of the store came upon them, and the door was opened to them, and the large fluorescent bulbs shone all around them, and they were sore amazed.
And the manager said unto them, be not meek for behold, I bring you electronic devices made in China, which shall be for all people.
For unto you is brought this day to the city of Moultrie Georgia, a lost leader, which is the deeply discounted gadget.
And this shall be a sale unto you. Ye shall find the phones at the back of the store, wrapped in shrink-wrap and lying on a pallet.
And suddenly there was a trampling of the manager by a multitude of the discount shopper, praising the box store and saying, “Glory to Black Friday,” now get the hell out of my way or I’ll elbow you in the face.
~The Book of Walmart
Like it or not, the commercialization of the Christmas holiday is a fact of life. This year, even the preceding holiday, named itself for gratitude, and formerly celebrated simply by spending a day and a good meal with family and friends counting our blessings, has now been swallowed by the Christmas machine and named “Gray Thursday” for its status as Black Friday Eve.
Now, low-wage retail workers are expected to give up their Thanksgiving evening, starting work as early as 8:00pm, before the tryptophan has even worn off, and while the rest of the family is going back for seconds on pie. And bargain hunters, lured by the ever more deeply discounted sales, voluntarily give up their Thanksgiving night to stand on line and wait in the cold for the shopping event of the season.
But Gray Thursday, and Black Friday 2012 are now a memory, and all that’s left are the contusions. It’s a new day, which also has a title – Small Business Saturday. The idea today is to support local businesses. And no, that doesn’t mean the Wal-Mart that happens to be in your town, or the one on your end of town. It means the businesses where the owners are likely to be behind the counter – not lounging on their second yacht in the Caymans making more in the hour it takes you to wait on line than their employees do all year.
The War on Christmas is not about Christians vs. Secularists, or Humanists, or Pagans. The War on Christmas is a Civil War in which spirituality, good will, and peace on earth and in our hearts were the first casualties. We worship the trinity of Money, Stuff, and Greed. And most of us haven’t even noticed. But the monetization of Christmas is a cultural norm, and as such, there is something we can do about it. We can practice commercialism with a cause.
Running a local retail business is a difficult job. When I opened my business in Anchorage, there was no Barnes & Noble – there was Cook Inlet Book Company. There were no Lowe’s or Home Depot – there was McKay’s Hardware. There was no Toys ‘R Us – there was Classic Toys and Over the Rainbow. There was no Bed, Bath & Beyond – there was Habitat Housewares. There was no WalMart, or Kmart, or Target. People still bought things, but many of the places they bought them from are businesses long gone, whose names have been forgotten, and whose customers fled in pursuit of the biggest selection, and rock bottom prices.
Since those times, when the advent of the big chain store meant certain doom for some local businesses, there are some local retailers that have learned to adapt, or who have found a niche market that a big chain could never fill. Local businesses will often order you just the thing you need, or they offer gift wrapping services, or personalized customer service. Some offer to make gift baskets, or provide services rather than products. In the cutthroat world of retail, those who adapt survive. But they also need our help.
So stop in at Classic Toys, Over the Rainbow in the Huffman Business Park, The Jewelry Cache, Grass Roots Fair Trade Store, or Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge. Buy a gift certificate for a massage, or a car wash, or snow removal services from one of many local businesses. Give some local flavor to those Outside with a gift from the Ugashik Wild Salmon Company, Alaska Wildberry Products, or ArXotica skin care products. After your shopping day is done, enjoy a meal at Spenard Roadhouse, or Villa Nova or The Middleway Café in Anchorage – or Jack Sprat in Girdwood, Lemongrass in Fairbanks, or Chinook’s in Seward. Use locally grown potatoes and carrots in your holiday meals, serve up some Alaskan libations from Bear Creek Winery, or Midnight Sun Brewing Company. Order a case from The Grog Shop in Homer. Make it your mission. And make it last longer than Small Business Saturday.
Local business owners are grateful to you. Believe me, I know. And they can’t always provide you the best deal because they simply can’t buy in bulk like Target can. But maybe we as consumers can pay a little more, give one or two fewer presents to those who already have everything they need, and pay our giving forward to those who work every day to drive our local economy.
Your dollars will go for things like braces, and piano lessons, and soccer uniforms – not second yachts, fourth houses, and 12th cars. And you can feel really good about that, wherever you live.