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Holiday commercial madness: how do we continually rationalize Christmas?


The madness we now call “holidays” takes on a different meaning in times like these, when you have people without homes and homes without people.

Instead of society focusing on what it should be focused on–rectifying greed run amuck, or putting a stop to the gamesmanship of a dysfunctional Congress–we instead preoccupy ourselves with another holiday that becomes more absurd than the last.

Some of the others, you can partially rationalize–you know Thanksgiving’s “Day of thanks” (when everyday is a day of thanks) or Easter’s crucifixion message (separate from the bunny and eggs b.s.)-but Christmas can’t be rationalized. It was never Christ’s birthday. Jesus was born in March. But religion is a switch that once flipped little else is heard, much less rationalized.

So Jesus becomes the “reason for the season.” We should all celebrate our birthdays three months early or nine months late. Since we ain’t making sense. Let’s all not make sense. Anybody bother to ask about the season when Christmas is one day. What season?

Ahhh … that season. The shopping season. The season that comes earlier and earlier every year.

This year, they opened the stores on Thanksgiving evening, which I thought was sacrilegious. But then again, hardly anything’s sacred in America anymore. You can do that type of stuff with holidays you make up. Change ’em when you want to, celebrate them how you want to. That’s how pagan holidays are.

Christmas has become “Pagan of the pagan.” Trees, the fat man, flying reindeer, and of course “White Jee-zus.” It’s all a little much for a day that’s a bunch of mess about nothing. Except separating us from our money. Christmas is about separating us from our money … with a smile.

A nation that spends 11 1/2 months being mean for no reason suddenly turns to one that celebrates a season of cheer.

Good people feel good about themselves all the time. They don’t need artificial inspiration no more than a person who doesn’t want (or like) kids receiving artificial insemination. The hypocrisy of the inspiration is to be nice to people by giving, because it is better to give than receive, the culture teaches. However, in order to give, the culture induces you to buy. And we buy, and we buy and we buy …

Then we pay, and we pay and we pay … sometimes for the rest of the next year. Then it starts all over again, and we never bother to stop and ask, why?

There’s a reason for this season. Fantasy makes us feel good about ourselves, and Christmas has become cultural fantasy. It’s a feel-good opportunity for the same ones who make us feel so bad the rest of the year. Christmas has become a “photo op” for money-hungry government agencies and corporations.

For others, it’s a marketing opportunity. And for others still, it is a sincere cultural engagement based on a false premise of what they think Christmas is.

What makes Christmas irrational is that it causes so much pain and debt for so many families. Loneliness, depression, rejection, confliction are only some of the emotions we experience along with happiness, joy, cheer and glee.

Buying stuff makes us feel better–if not for more than a moment. And you can get some good deals. After all, 85 percent of retail businesses make their profits in the fourth quarter. Yes, it’s quite a good Christmas for them. There’s nothing wrong with the spirit of Christmas, or the spirit of healing, or the spirit of giving, if that spirit was indeed sincere. But watching commercial after commercial after commercial of what we should buy and what we need to be complete as persons in a material society is too much.

Waving Christmas in front of millions of starving and homeless (or near homeless) Americans is like campers taunting a hungry bear with food–a not-so-subtle cruelty where you know the outcome is not pretty. Somebody’s gonna get hurt, and it’s not going to be the bear.

America’s Occupation Movement is taunting the rich in this country. The 1 percent are most likely the product makers and retailers that Americans buy from. The 1 percent are the campers waiting for the hungry bear to come along.

The mentality is “eat, drink and be merry” while people are out of work, falling out of their homes and have little money to splurge on Christmas. But they will, unless it hurts … them or someone else. It’s irrational to believe that “holiday spirit” is making people forget about the problems in their lives, particularly when you see Congress playing policy games with people’s live on television the week of Christmas. Obviously “the spirit” hasn’t hit them yet.

But they know Christmas is a sham. Congress knows b.s. when they see it, because they are b.s. and there’s an old saying, “You can’t b.s. a b.s.-er.” That’s Congress.

That’s the irrationality of Christmas in America today. You just can’t rationalize the Christ in all this. Largely because he isn’t there. He’d turn the whole table over, if he came back today because he knows it is all about the moneychangers making more money. He’d also ask us what we’re celebrating … because it’s not even his birthday.

We celebrate nonsense, because we love the rush Christmas gives us. We love the pagan symbolisms absent of any substance. We love making the 1 percent even richer and the rest of us poorer and in more debt. That’s OK, because everybody does it.

The madness actually makes us feels good even when we’re not so good.

Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, “Real Eyez: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.

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