This is the day retailers around the country celebrate by crossing their fingers, mainlining Rolaids,and murmuring fervent Jabez-style prayers to that great greed deity called American Consumerism in hopes that profits will magically fall from the sky and land in their cash registers this year. Will the cash-strapped Soccer Mom succumb to the schmaltzy million-dollar ad campaign to max out her remaining credit card on the latest Xbox incarnation? Will Grandpa Joe spend his last non-increased Social Security dollar on that fancy new QVC exclusive weather gizmo that tells the time and temperature in 14 languages?In the age of divorce, is a diamond really forever and does every kiss begin with Kay Jewelers?
One thing's for certain, if you were anywhere in the vicinity of a shopping mall this weekend, it was difficult if not impossible to avoid the sucking vortex of traffic funneling shoppers into the stacked parking decks like so many farm animals being led to the guy with the pneumatic bolt gun. If you shut your eyes you could almost hear the faint bleating -- baaaaa . . . baaaaa . . . baaaaaa -- of the hapless drone-like sheeple plodding out of their SUVs, loading up their carts with cheap and potentially poisonous crap made in China, then waiting in endless checkout lines to hand over their cash. The unending, seamless, forever-repeating spiral shopping pattern was almost like a twisted ballet version of "Brave New World." I like new things, new things make me happy . . . I'm so glad I'm a Beta; Alphas have to think so hard . . . I like new things . . . look, there's a BOGO offer at Macy's . . . pass another gram of Soma and a grande Starbucks and wheel my cart over there, will you?" Did anybody get trampled to death at WalMart this year? No? How about in the parking lot?
What better exemplifies the spirit of Christmas and the miraculous birth of the Christian Savior than a sea of blank-eyed brainwashed consumers convinced they MUST Keep Up with the Kardashians and little Billy will never forgive them if Santa fails to hand over Mortal Kombat this year. And let us not ignore the terrified Big Box store managers' watery eyes glued to CNBC's stock reports to see if there was enough of an uptick in sales so they could get the holiday bonus necessary to buy their families a car trunkload full of similar dreck with their 33% employee discount, of course. Gotta be mindful of our spending!
O! Little Town Of Bethlehem, How Do Your Stores Shine Bright . . .
Meanwhile, out here in the real world that takes place beyond the force-field of the mega-mall, the few television anchors not dispatched to report on the frantic feeding frenzy were slipping out much-less exciting tidbits of news, such as the coming contentious Senate debate over the future of health insurance coverage in this nation, or President Obama's decision to send another 30,000 or so troops to join the almost decade-old fight in Vietnam, er, Afghanistan.
Obama is borrowing a page from Raisin Brain's Book of Important Looking Backgrounds and will announce his Afghanistan escalation plans in a speech Tuesday night at the United States Military Academy at West Point. According to the NY Times, "'The Commander-in-Chief has issued the orders,' Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at the White House, at the outset of what will be a two-day effort to sell the new strategy to the American people, Congress and American allies. Mr. Gibbs did not provide a precise figure for the new level of forces, although senior advisers to the president have said Mr. Obama intends to commit roughly 30,000 more troops."
Retailers across America reacted to the news by rushing out orders of patriotic "support the troops" ribbon car magnets and held emergency marketing meetings to strategize a solution to the sudden spending deficit created when 30,000 young consumers are removed from the grid. Maybe send their families 50% off "Defending the Homeland" discount coupons?
It's a start.