Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 4, 2013

ROOT: You did it, now deal with it

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Now is the time of year when the complaining starts and never seems to stop. “The holidays are too commercial” and all other such nonsense that people utter as they stampede over each other to get the latest Elmo toy that vibrates, or whatever Elmo does. Let’s put all of that to rest right now and, hopefully, alter some perceptions of the holidays.

The United States thrives on competition. We start wars because we feel bored and want to exert our dominance over countries that seem to get on our bad side. We have professional sports leagues that are based in the most violent physical contact that human beings can muster without actually killing one other. And now we have this desperate need to compete for things at Wal-Mart.

Retailers are not exploiting our desire to save money so much as they are exploiting our desire to win. The built-in American need to be No. 1 never goes away, even as we get older. It starts when we write our name with a little “#1” symbol next to it on our notebook in first grade, and it just grows from there.

The great thing with kids is that money is not even close to being a deciding factor in who really is No. 1. As a matter of fact, the kids who are considered rich never actually get to compete for the title. As we get older, the stakes get higher and the need to win becomes more intense.

Then again, is it the need to win or the fear of failure? I propose that it is some of both. If we fail, then we lose. Therefore, we fear losing and we fear failure. We are Americans. We have to win. You don’t see this Black Friday madness happening in Germany, do you?

It only happens here because it could only happen here. Only Americans are so insecure in themselves that winning is everything, even if it means physically harming someone just to get an XBox One.

Stop saying that the holidays have become too commercialized, because they haven’t. The holidays have not changed in decades. It is Americans who have changed for the worse.

I remember a day when Black Friday was actually fun. I remember my mom and I standing in the mall waiting for Hills to open so we could get our free Christmas ornament and go Christmas shopping. When the gates opened, there was no pushing and there was no chaos. People filed in and went about their business.

Somewhere along the way, Americans lost their minds and Black Friday has now consumed Thanksgiving. The retailers even have the nerve to now call that holiday “the Thursday before Black Friday.”

My wife and I refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving. For those of you who say it is no big deal, you are wrong. You have forgotten what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about. It is about family members flying across the country just to be at the table on Thanksgiving Day when dinner is served. It is about seeing those family members and enjoying each other for that one special day.

Now Thanksgiving is all about getting great deals. Why? Because Americans hate to lose.

Why does Christmas have a bad rep in all of this? What did Christmas do to make everyone angry?

It shouldn’t be such a big deal to see a few artificial trees on display in local stores before Halloween. The sight should be welcomed.

Think of how much nicer you are to people during the holidays when you are not elbowing someone’s grandmother to get closer to the pile of cheap microwaves. That is the person you want to be all the time.

If starting the holidays a little earlier means that you are that person a little longer, then that is great.

But don’t blame the holidays for the commercialism that is getting worse every year. That is all on all of us.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident and supporter of the holidays. His column is published every Wednesday, even during the Christmas season. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net, but he does not have XBox One.