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Opinion January 2014

The Old Gal

It’s a Wonderful Modern Life

By Anne Ashley

Just after the Thanksgiving Day parade and before the Superbowl X?X?, we can now add the punching, pushing, screaming and scrambling of out of control shoppers to our holiday TV viewing! It’s an unacceptable state of affairs. People in third-world countries don’t fight that hard for survival, let alone an unnecessary plaything. 

It’s over. I survived another holiday season. I entertained the family and managed to come through relatively unscathed – well, the regrettable tree lights incident notwithstanding!

Granted, I'm no Martha Stewart. I don’t go so far as to set name cards, fold the napkins into doves or swans or whatever animal is de rigueur these days or display hand-painted guests towels … but I do try to set a nice table. I use the “good” plates for guests – which, basically means I place the chipped plates where immediate family members are seated and I make sure the knives and forks all match. In short, I make an effort.

No, all-in-all, I have to say, this festive season was a hit.

However, the same can’t be said for the overeager bargain hunters involved in department store mêlées during the much-hyped end of year sales.

I watched with increasing horror as the deaths, stabbings and casualties of overeager shoppers were reported as though it’s become an annual contact sporting event! Just after the Thanksgiving Day parade and before the Superbowl X?X?, we can now add the punching, pushing, screaming and scrambling of out of control shoppers to our holiday TV viewing! It’s an unacceptable state of affairs. People in third-world countries don’t fight that hard for survival, let alone an unnecessary plaything. 

What's more, how do these battle weary discount-warriors settle back into normal lives once the sales-events are over? How do they enjoy the hard-earned, ill-gotten item while nursing their black eyes, lost teeth or missing clumps of hair? I don’t know about you, but anything that cost me an earlobe would be banished from my life, not given pride of place in my home!  Or, even worse, try telling the children where daddy is on Christmas morning when he’s been apprehended until New Year for brawling over their shiny new toy – and I wonder if they’d still cherish the Tickle-Me-Whatever if they knew daddy was doing 6 to 9, with time off for good behavior!

In my youth we settled for small gifts, ill-fitting clothes from grandparents and toys we didn’t particularly want but happily made use of. It was Christmas! The excitement was in the entire season, not just one morning of swag!  Where did that innocence go?

When did we become so lured into saving a buck on some store-bought object of desire that we’re willing to cause someone actual bodily harm to obtain it? Or willing to spend all night in front of a closed store just to get inside first?

I've never wanted anything for myself or my children so badly that I'd assault someone to get it. Even in dire circumstances, I fear I’d just concede to anyone more determined than I to have whatever it was we were competing for – including life or death matters. I'm sure I’d come back to the roost with an empty basket because mama just wasn’t willing to beat someone up over a loaf of bread.

Ahhhh … Tis the season of Modern Goodwill Towards All Men – well, goodwill as long as you get there first and you’re packin’, that is!

 

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