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Jim Walker: The adverse evolution of Christmas

Don't Take Me Seriously

Posted: December 16, 2011 9:45 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2011 9:45 a.m.

I missed the "wooden" age of Christmas.

By that, I mean when I was a child, the wooden toys you see elves making in movies were already a thing of the long-past.

In fact, in my day, even toxic metals and choking hazards were already on the way out, though they were still popular in cap guns, fire trucks and jack-in-the-boxes and such.

Nope. When I was a child, plastics were the thing. But these plastics were still full of toxic chemicals, so even old-schoolers were happy.

Why, I remember we used to see how long we could keep our tongues on yo-yos before the burn from the chemicals in the plastic would become too much to bear.

The good old days....

And if some Ghost of Christmas Past were to sum up the Dec. 25 gift evolution in my lifetime, he'd pretty much have to label it as "plastics to electronics," with the correspondingly massive increase in price tags.

I mean, I overheard two guys talking the other day, and one of them said he was planning on spending 3 to 4 grand on his kids' Christmas gifts this year.

Holy moly! Four grand? In my day, that would buy a couple Volkswagens. And even if he had 20 kids, that would still be $200 apiece.

Can you say overindulgence?

I mean, does any kid really need that much electronic gear, that many ways to avoid interacting with his parents?

Now, I won't lie to you. Christmas, in my lifetime, has always been about excess and making sure your kid has the latest whatever. And this is just fine, if you're the kid. But for the parents ... well, cheers to the recession, anyway. It slowed things down for a couple of years.

But, you'd think that, with everyone giving everyone such expensive gifts, there would be a lot more Christmas cheer displayed by holiday shoppers. Of course, maybe a shopper only sees the 4 grand pouring away before Christmas, which would tend to make him cranky - and doesn't see it come back in kind from the kids until his gifts are unwrapped on the 25th.

I know, who am I kidding? The gifts those kids buy their parents are paid for by their parents. That would mean our 4-grand buddy is actually shelling out 8 grand at this special time of year.

That's if the little ingrates bother to return in kind, and bother to take a couple of moments away from "Angry Birds" and use Dad's credit card to buy him a few things they need at

I won't lie to you about shopper's attitudes, either. Christmas shoppers have always been hostile. Why, I can remember, when I was 9, and a rather large woman hip-checked me out of my place in a department store purchase line.

But the evolution of Christmas has seen shoppers getting meaner and craftier as time passes.

These days, before you go out Christmas shopping, you don your holiday Kevlar and strap on your pepper spray. And you shop in packs, as well, putting your minions out as decoys and cart-blockers and having them create timely distractions, such as fist fights or phony seizures, when necessary.

During the recent Black Friday sales, you had a stooge near the front of every line, and you each bought each everything each needed, whether each needed it or not.

Sadly, the adverse evolution of Christmas will persist. The cost of it will continue to increase, and shoppers will become ever more ruthless.

Why, I can envision a decade or so in the future, when no one will dare venture out on the streets or to the mall at Christmastime. All of the ridiculously excessive exchange of funds and goods will take place online, and we won't even see our gifts get unwrapped. They'll just be delivered by armored cars, transferred from one barred compound to another.

And, of course, none of what we have discussed here even touches on the fact people rarely think about the reason for the season anymore.

Maybe we should just punt, and call this Frankenstein of a holiday we've created Giftmas. Then we can go back to celebrating Jesus' birth in serene and meaningful ways.

But what do I know? See you at the mall.

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