Do We, In Fact, Need A Little Christmas?

No, evidently we need a whole hell of a lot.  Way too much, it seems.  Faced with an unprecedentedly insecure and desperate consumer base, America’s retailers stoop ever lower to sell Chinese crap to consumers by turning Christmas into a fatter and less cinematically appealing combination of Survivor and Road Warrior, with predictable results.  Pepper-spraying.  Weapons wielded.  Crazed shoppers stepping over a dying guy.  But the good news is, Americans spent several billion, which represents quite a few $2 waffle irons, anyway.  Woo hoo. Wall Street is already (at least for today) singing Hallelujah.

With so many distractions keeping me from blogging last week, I watched in stupefied amazement as the Thanksgiving News of the Crazy rolled by; so many funny (in a sad way) stories, so little time.

Item:  High school girl writes dismissive tweet (tweet!) about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, and, bowing to pressure from Brownback’s brown-nosers, her principal attempts, unsuccessfully, to make her write him an apology.  Really.  Now she’s famous, and Brownback, well, famously #blowsalot.

Item:  Federal Judge Jed Rakoff slapped not just the richly deserving Citibank, but the SEC, upside the head: (emphasis mine)

In any case like this that touches on the transparency of financial markets whose gyrations have so depressed our economy and debilitated our lives, there is an overriding public interest in knowing the truth. In much of the world, propaganda reigns, and truth is confined to secretive, fearful whispers. Even in our nation, apologists for suppressing or obscuring the truth may always be found. But the SEC, of all agencies, has a duty, inherent in its statutory mission, to see that the truth emerges; and if fails to do so, this Court must not, in the name of deference or convenience, grant judicial enforcement to the agency’s contrivances.

What? A corporation can’t just cover up its crimes with some money, like a cat covers its poop, and admit no wrongdoing?  The terrorists clearly have won.  Or maybe it was the occupiers.

Item:  Congress loses its only comedian, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, to Newt Gingrich’s undoubted delight.  “The Gingrich Group,” Frank said a while back, “I thought that was his wives.”  The clueless news reader “interviewing” him, unsurprisingly, missed the joke.

Item: Miley Cyrus (!) releases an #OWS-themed video; and although the song of course sucks, the video is downright inspirational.  Who’s next?  Justin Bieber?

Item: Whole Foods is playing all Christmas music, all the time, to the considerable horror of my friend, Tina.  During our brief shopping time there, I heard Ethel Merman singing “We Need a Little Christmas,” and it was downhill from there.  I would expect its employees to get surlier and surlier as the Big Day approaches.

I’ll be back to Portland, and blogging, on Thursday, by which time I expect the crazy will have continued.


  1. michlib says:

    Hard to choose who to despise more – the crass retailers trumpeting ” doorbuster ” promotions who recoil at the violent behavior that ensues, or the sheeple who dutifullty line up at midnight or six (!) p.m. Thursday to get that imported stuff. In our new, Fox-friendly America, boring citizenship has been traded in for the hip ” consumer ” badge and all the blue light specials waiting to be had. Our poverty of cash is now accompanied by a poverty of spirit. Rupert approves.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s funny, but when I was a kid, we sometimes went shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but to look at the Christmas windows (or maybe ride the Monorail at Meier and Frank); nobody bought anything. This whole Black Friday thing seems both pernicious and new. If anyone’s waging a War on Christmas, it’s WalMart, and, to a lesser extent, Whole Foods. They’re making it toxic and annoying.

  2. Ché Pasa says:

    Yes, please. Just a little Christmas would be fine about now.

    What with the tumult of Black Friday behind us (whew!) we can get on with some nog and plum pudding and a festive tree by the window, while we sit by the fire reading Dickens and scritching the dog.

    Speaking of, I’ve noticed the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree has been showing up in all the shops. Seems to have taken over from the Christmas Story Leg Lamp. Clearly there’s a change in the spirit of holiday nostalgia.

    We’re not in such a good mood anymore.


    • cocktailhag says:

      Jerry Herman talks of “candles in the window, carols at the spinet,” and “a little laughter, happy ever after,” but curiously leaves out any mention of waffle irons or x-boxes. Christmas was different back then.

  3. mikeinportc says:

    I saw that judge-doing-his-job story this morning. Had to read it twice,to see if I missed something. Not used to that sort of thing.

    I also saw , & heard, some of that Black Thursday(!)/Friday stuff. Nauseating! One brother is a manager for a big retailer ( not W-M, thankfully) I thought having to go to work at 3 am , on Friday was ridiculous, but now they all ( feel they) have to be open Thurs. also . Yuch! I haven’t been to any of those places during the “holiday season”, or any mall, at all, in years, except when I was getting paid to do so . ( Delivering flowers)

    One of my co-workers had go somewhere Thursday, to help his brother. He had forgotten to get dog food earlier in the week. He’d heard W-M* was going to be open,so went there ( in Norwich, NY. – I wa surrisd that they’s have a store in such a small place ) Holy $#(%!!! The place was wall-to-wall people. He had to travel a convoluted route, because it was too congested (inside!) Ridiculous!

    Fortunately for me ( most) of my family doesn’t do the usual, except for the young kids. It’s Christmas all year, when he spirit moves one . My out-of-town brother & I, exchange beer, usually, when we see each other. My holiday , & special occasion, “shopping” usually consists of bringing seasonally-appropriate plants**, from work . It’s personal to, as I grew most of ‘em. ;) When I worked for a geenhouse/florist, it didn’t even cost me anything for pointsettias on Dec. 24th, or later ( A very popular item with all concerned, and ours were the best(!)/most gorgeous ones around [ or that I've ever seen] :) ) We saved 200-300 of certain varieties, for Orthodox Christmas. The rest of the leftovers were for employees, nursing homes, the hospitals, or compost.
    Simple! What’s all this fuss about holiday shopping? :) ))))))))))

    Re Newt , when is the last time he had a real job, if ever? What a colossal ass!

    * Me? I had a maintenance/landsape customer, who didn’t drive ( Had always lived in big cities previously – SF, Seattle, & Phil.) She was frequently asking me to do her outdoor shopping for her ( without paying for the extra time, of course ) . My answer to her “The next time you’re in W-M [~ 20 mi away from me -lol] see if you see any…… “> was ” Well, I don’t expect anybody to put a gun to my head any time soon, so don’t wait for me to go there. ” . :) ))))

    ** Tried Helleborus last year . I highly recommend it. H. niger‘Jacob’ is especially fragrant. I couldn’t resist that one, so got one for myself. Put it in my cool hallway , on Dec 15th. It had been blooming for about 10 days at that point, and bloomed until March 15th. It’s outside right now. I’ll probably bring it in , in 2-3 weeks

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’ve been to WalMart… once. It was enough. Since my Mom died, I no longer have to buy anyone gifts; my nephews are of the age where they just want money, which is easy enough.
      I planted Helleborus twice last year, in Seattle and Portland, I’m pretty sure niger was involved. I’ve never used them before.

  4. mikeinportc says:

    I went there for comic relief, a few times. Shortly after W-M first opened, I happened to go someplace nearby, after an exhausting day ( late April?) covering up, bringing in, and otherwise trying to protect tender plants, from an expected 3-day dip into the low to mid-twenties. LOl! The W-M garden elves were busily hustling things outside , including tender annuals . ( Memorial Day is the traditional time for that here.Even then, it can be sketchy.) Of course, I had to go back the next day , to survey the result.O-M-G! Almost total obliteration. Hysterical! The poor plants :( Love it when somebody in Arkansas or Georgia ( L’s knows – not!) decides the schedule in upstae NY . ;)

    A year or two later, I read , in American Nurseryman, of W-M’s participation in the big panel discussion, at a national nursery/landscape conference. The big topic was on educating employees, and the value it brings to a business. Evrybody was in general agreement, and shared their methods, and stories on how it payed off. Except W-M. Their VP, for the home & garden division, said it wasn’t worth it. While it’s an important revenue source for W-M, “..let’s face it. Those are unimportant people out there…” :0 I made ~ 50 copies of that, and highlighted those remarks. Then left them around W-M, especially in the relevant departments . :) )))))))))))

    Later, during the time I was working for the above-mentioned woman , I ‘d sometimes stop to visit the friends(ly) competition, in sight of W-M’s roof . It’s a great place, with gorgeous stuff ( From Iseli, among others ) After being there, I couldn’t bring myself to even be able to see W-M ‘s outdoor area, from 3/8 mi away. So as not to diminish the experience, I’d leave by the less direct route, to avoid the sight of those sad,sad, things, over there . :) Still do that .

    • cocktailhag says:

      Pretty typical; when your business model involves low pay and high turnover, why have smart employees? People go to WalMart for one thing: price. They expect to have an awful experience.
      It’s delicious irony that such a policy caused them to lose a bunch of inventory; they’d at least notice that.

  5. mikeinportc says:

    I’ve used Helleborus occasionally. That was the first time as a potted indoor plant. Evergreen, blooms in winter &/or early spring, in the shade,even dry shade,where others struggle, long-lasting, multiplies well, without being invasive. What’s not to love? ( Did that work on you?;) It should be convincing, but it’s not often enough. It fits the description of what people say they want, but it’s not showy at the time most are considering it. )

    In climates milder than here ( yours?) H. niger lives up to it’s common name of Christmas Rose. The buds form at ground level, in late November/ early December, and start blooming about Christmas. Here, it’s when there’s 3+ days at 40F, or higher, and at least the leaves above the snow ( or no snow) .I.e, anywhere from late February to early May.

    Most of the recent breeding work has been with H. orientalis , Lenten Rose, and complex hyrbrids of it . They bloom too late to be worth forcing. These new ones, however, are H. niger, so the life cycle is perfect for Christmas forcing. Last year was relatively mild in late November, so they had buds starting to pop up, unopened , by Thanksgiving. We had them outside until about Dec 5,then started bringing them in , a few at a time. They’d usually open fully in 3-4 days , after which, most went back out . Brought ‘em back in as needed. Might be a good one for your patio. There , they should survive year-round in a pot. ????

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’ve only used them outside, where they function as perennials. They usually die all the way back when it freezes, and bloom in early spring. Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of experience with them. I’ll have to watch the ones I put in for a few years.

  6. mikeinportc says:

    ” It’s delicious irony that such a policy caused them to lose a bunch of inventory; they’d at least notice that”

    Unfortunately not . That’s not usully how it works . The big boys don’t pay for their mistakes. Their suppliers do. Salesmen have told me, and a previous boss came to that conclusion, as we attempted to fill out Home Despot’s 20 pg vendor application booklet. ( They wanted to buy sod from us. Boss circular-filed it, after ~ 10 pages.) They don’t pay for at least 90 days after delivery, and if anything dies ,for any reason, they don’t pay at all . That even applies after the sale. Anything the customer brings back,covered by the guarantee,is credited against the supplier. I’ve known people that went to such places for climactically-inappropriate azaleas.They’d enjoy the spring show , then let tem die, knowing that they could take them back in the spring for replacements.

    They’ve dumbed down the standard , in that area, in both guarantee, and customer expectation* . Used to be standard practice was 50%/1yr if you plant it, and 100%/1yr if we plant it . At least that way there was some shared responsibility, and an incentive for customer diligence. Now some form of 2yr guarantee is almost de rigeur. The current “we” is one of the last holdouts, with 50% on the second year .

    * I should say that most of the regulars, that I encounter, are pretty good. It’s the “W-M Shopper” -types, moving up to the real deal, for the first time ( or very infreqently) that sometimes have unrealistic, or just plain strange expecations.