Do me a small favor, will ya, and turn around and give 2008 the finger on its way out. It was very unkind as it wrapped up its presence in my life.
I'm no fan of the last part of the year we call the "holiday season." It actually starts around the end of September, in a way. Like clockwork, I wake up one morning and hear the Canada geese honking their way over my house, on their way to a better place for them, and leaving me here without even an offer to take me with them. While that might sound snide, it really begins something in me that makes things more difficult to deal with.
That honking in the morning signals shorter days, (usually) a slowdown in my work, and the inevitable calculations of whether I am meeting my goals for the year, and knowing that time to meet them is running down. The weather gets cooler, life gets slower, days get shorter, and some of the things I love to do go on the shelf til the snow melts, and I get a bit more irritable with the people around me, those whom I can least afford to piss off, really. Realizing this, you would think I would be able to see it coming and make provisions for its inevitable arrival. But like the three little pigs, I don't, and it hits me on the side of the head every year without my being able to get my hockey helmet on. You would also think that being from a place that has shorter days, colder weather, and longer winters, would make me more resilient to this sort of thing - again, not so much.
Then comes Thanksgiving, a time I really do like - it's a nice reward for making it this far, and I get to have and/or cook some good food, and generally relax a bit for a few days. But then comes the day after Thanksgiving, and all the good vibes get flushed down the toilet in the wake of the shopping frenzy that hits starting then, and going through the end of the year basically without check.
You might call me one who is afflicted with some seasonal affective disorder. But I don't think that is it, really, it's not the time of year itself, or the shortening of the days, the more infrequent presence of freshly grilled meat in my life, that is the issue. What is the issue, is what this time of year brings. Or, more to the point, what it brings OUT. What it brings out in people. I'm sure you remember the story of the young fellow who was TRAMPLED TO DEATH at a Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving. Stories like this happen every year. That this one was at a Walmart, perhaps my favorite corporate nut-punch recipient, just brings it into even better focus. Stories like this turn my stomach and make me want to scream until every nerve in my body is a jangled mess. I am mostly ashamed of what our society has done to itself. And that it all happens in the spirit of the "holiday season" is even more sickening to me. There is no way to frame greed so that it takes on a palatable taste. The country, and, by extension, the entire world, is in a steep recession right now because of greed. Any way you turn it, it all comes down to greed. One only has to venture out at 5 AM on "Black Friday" to have that driven home in spades. (no pun intended.)
Several years ago, ThatOneWife and I decided to venture out at that time on that day. We went to a local electronics store to get some MP3 players for a few of the kids. As we waited in line to get in, things got pretty dicey and as more activity inside the store was apparent, the crush of people became pretty fierce. Then the yelling started, people pushing into line, and then everyone just shoving to get in as the doors were unlocked. Mrs. ThatOneGuy got pinned against the side of the door briefly, as everyone there turned into knuckle-dragging neanderthals, shoving their way into the store to get their hands on the goods - gotta get that $70 DVD player, at all costs, apparently.
People pushed and shoved, were general assholes. People picked up STACKS of the DVD players, like 5, 6, or 7 of the damn things. It was a disgusting display.
Since that time, it has only become more of a sport, that Friday shopping. And I have only become more disgusted by its practice. Add to the pile those who are more interested in the "receiving" than the "giving" and I get a pretty good headache...
Our entire way of life runs on greed. Get that credit card, get that interest only loan so you can get that bigger house, get that Hummer to put in the garage. Need a boat? Hell yes, you need a boat - THIS boat. And the greed doesn't all belong to the consumer either.
And speaking of neanderthalery, how long is the Entire World going to sit here (using our $70 DVD players) and watch Israel, Hamas, Palestine, whatever, et al, bomb the hell out of each other in the name of God, fighting over such a rotted piece of dust and broken concrete as that called Gaza? As far as I'm concerned they should put up a fence electrified with a billion volts, and instead of calling it the Holy Land, call it The Land Where Nobody Is Allowed To Live. And it's not just isolated to that place either. Similar stuff happens in places like Darfur, Rwanda, Russia, China, Iraq/Iran/Pakistan, and here too. I am alarmed at some things I read about the president we have just elected. The Magic Negro? Are you kidding me? Are you really a person that subscribes to the values of a past and uninformed CENTURY entirely? Have we not really progressed that far after all? I don't care what your political philosophy is, there isn't room for that kind of cave-man ideology.
I guess the whole point to this entire venting of my spleen is to say that I am so sickened at this time of year by the constant greed and lack of humanity, here and in other places, that one can easily lose one's faith in the entire human race. It seems we are less "divine" and in fact our more common denominator is wolf-predator. That it happens under the microscope of this time of year speaks unfortunate volumes.
So, by making it this far, you are possibly thinking what an absolute SAINT I must live with. And you would be right. She understands, and I really try to not take things out on those around me. I mostly succeed, most of the time.
Soon, things will get better, I will get a better job, and begin to finally reinvent myself, and be ready for along push that will put me in a better frame of mind.