Yes, I meant to write “Black Thursday,” for that is what my all-time favorite holiday has become: what was once a day of giving thanks for whatever bounty we received from God has now become a soul-less bacchanalia of whatever bargains we can grab from WalMart, others (and, alas, the Almighty himself) be damned. A day that was supposed to be free of commercial anxiety and suffused with the sublime joy of family, food and football is now a countdown to the frenzied rush to be the first in line at the nearest “door buster” sale. The dark pall that was Black Friday has spilled over into Thanksgiving Day and poisoned it.
Just how bad has it become? Ask Matt Drudge, who documents the atrocities every year:
It used to be that toward the end of November – long after the last fruits of the harvest were culled from the fields and young tom turkeys were prepared for the slaughter – we directed our gratitude to God the Father for his providence and mercy, after which time we prepared ourselves for the latter part of December, when a world in sin and error pining would cast its weary glance toward a bright star over Bethlehem and the soul would understand its worth. Those days are long gone; the ceremony of that innocence has been drowned and the many Gods of the Market have come to drive out the Gods of the Copybook Headings*:
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
*Copybook headings were proverbs or maxims printed at the top of 19th century British schoolboys’ notebook pages. The students had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page and, in so doing, hopefully would commit them to memory. In the case of Kipling’s poem, he’s referring to the wisdom of these proverbs and maxims – which we ignore at our peril.
For every argument that can be presented against the present state of affairs I suppose I can just as easily present another to support it – especially in this, the second year of the Great Recession, where no pennies fall from Heaven save for those tumbling out of the Stimulus Purse and into the hands of Obama cronies and every penny honestly acquired and honestly possessed must be put to the best use.
Thus are retailers compelled to open their doors ever earlier in a desperate effort to balance a year of anorexic sales with a weekend’s worth of revenue obtained at a much-reduced margin of profit. In many cases, when the smoke of commercial battle clears, many of them will gaze at their ledger sheets in dull surprise as they discover that they barely broke even. But hey…the consumers (that is to say, those desperate to acquire the most things for the least amount of money) are certainly happy. Happy? Perhaps that’s not the best word. Happy people don’t deploy pepper spray when they shop for Christmas gifts or forego the Thanksgiving feast to camp out near the front door of the nearby Target store. I guess the correct word is relieved. These latter day pagans are relieved that one more Christmas chore is mostly (or in some lucky cases, entirely) complete.
It is all entirely distasteful to me and rather like watching starving mobs scrambling for the loaves of bread tossed by Roman bakers in thrall to the corn and wheat factors who, in turn, owe their fealty to the Emperor and his administration.
Good grief, we have become Imperial Rome all over again…and the Bethlehem Star has yet to appear.