Thanksgiving Consumerism

Remember a few years ago, when the woman was crushed by a horde of people wanting a discounted DVD player (CNN Archive)? One store opens at 6am, then the next opens at 5am, then 4am. But, that’s not enough, now Kmart will be open on Thanksgiving Day (ABC News)! Thanksgiving really has become the forgotten holiday. It’s a gateway drug to shopping mania. People will crowd these stores; maybe trample another just like them, to get great deals on stuff that no one really needs. How did we get this far, and will it ever end?

When I was in Eighth grade, we had to do speeches for my English class. I did mine on my family, a mixed family of Steps. Most of the speeches were like mine, mundane. But, one girl, Carin Skivington, did her speech on Thanksgiving, labeling it the forgotten holiday. I’m not sure who coined the term, but at 14 years old, her insight is magnificent. Thanksgiving has become the forgotten holiday, and now Halloween barely gets a nod. We line up the year beginning with New Year’s and resolutions, coast into Easter where it’s all about candy, followed up by Memorial Day. Clearly, some do what is expected of Memorial Day and remember those lives lost in war, but who remembers that day was started to remember the lives lost in the Civil War? Skip over the parent remembrances and celebrate the 4th of July. How do we celebrate it? Cooking out and watching fireworks, chemicals exploding in the air. Sing a few rounds of the Star Spangled Banner toasted in with a few beers, and then go to bed. Do we remember the struggle it was to put this country into place? Do we remember the bloodshed, the lives lost, and the struggle to get people to agree? Do we remember that without the Bill of Rights, we would not be here today like this? No, we don’t. We’re more interested in the day off the holiday gives us, instead of remember the people who even gave us the holidays with Labor Day.

History classes in school teach people how to be brainwashed citizens, it doesn’t teach kids about the importance of why we have these holidays. It doesn’t teach people why it’s important to remember what others have done for us so we can stand on the shoulders of giants. We stress over these holidays, to eat too much food, and get crap from those we care about, stuff that we don’t care about. What would it take for us to get back to basics? What would it take for us to remember what these holidays are all about?

Holiday is a derivative of Holy Day, stemming from religions, specifically Christianity, and then Catholicism. All Saint’s day is preceded by Halloween. Christmas, Easter, All Saint’s day mark season changes. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have these holidays connected with climate. Astrology points to a changing era, from the Age of Aquarius, soon we will enter the Age of Pisces. Pisces is the last sign on the astrological wheel, the old soul, the philosopher. The Mayan calendar is rumored to end in 2012. Perhaps this year will mark the change when we go from being a me-society to a more human centered society. Perhaps we will finally remember to remember. We will see that history has its place, and it’s place is to be told. Skip the master narrative and remember the mistakes we made. It’s not about things, as the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you when you die. And, if you can’t take it with you when you die, what good is it here on earth?

Hopefully we, collectively, can see that we need these changes now, instead of 5 years from now.

TV – Confessions of a New Mom

After Levi was born I began breastfeeding, and after the mothers paid their visit, I discovered that we actually got a reception on our cable-less TV. Soon, the lengthy breastfeeding sessions were supplemented with soap operas. I used to catch Days of our Lives in high school, back when Sami was so conniving it made you sick, and it seemed that she and Lucas should both be in jail, and the search for the real Roman was in full swing. I found that it was easy to get caught up, I remembered who all the characters were, and I just needed a few episodes to fill in the blanks. I must not have been breastfeeding correctly because Levi and I would sit there for an hour, and he was always hungry. Those first three to six months were a very frustrating time for all of us, Peter included. So, to pass these hour-long breast feedings sessions that occurred every two hours (that means an hour in between), I watched television. Soon, Peter purchased Rabbit Ears, and now we had channels 2-ABC, 5-PDX CW, 6-CBS, 8-NBC, 10-OBP, 12-FOX, 24-Trinity, 49-PDX49, and 54-ION/Infomercial. That’s NINE channels! I had the entire day lined up with morning news, local talk, Rachael & Martha, Passions, Days, and As the World Turns (a new soap I’d never experienced). As one can expect, I lost motivation, became overly enthralled with the TV, and sunk further into a cycle of Levi and TV. I’m not sure how I completed two classes, with As, Spring Term.

With the summer’s tragedy and frustrations, TV became less important. When we would be at the house, and during July and August it felt like we were home less than we were out, I stopped looking forward to these shows. My soap fix was fixed; I could care less about Katie and Jack. Game shows will always be there in some form. Local talk is being outsourced. The news is always repeating the same stuff, so there is no new news. In addition, primetime has the same script just a different name on the show.

Regardless of these realizations, I do have favorites. I admit two, but really, it’s four. Heroes and Desperate Housewives. The former has an intriguing plot while the latter is simply guilty pleasure. Who really lives like that? And, are they near Chicago, or did Illinois suddenly become coastal? But, I also enjoy Bones and House. I realized that I like the “smarter” shows. I enjoy the shows that have clues and mysteries to solve, however leading. I enjoy the shows where the nerd prevails and the underdog brings down The Man. I do not enjoy the mindless fluff. I do not enjoy the catty, gossipy shows that put people out there to make fools of themselves. I do not enjoy staged dramas pretending to be reality. I know what reality is, I’ve lived in dorms, I live life.

I also forget that I am not average, which is good. But, it’s surprising to learn that on Thursday, Survivor: China wins out at the 8 o’clock slot! It’s a broadcast version of The Real World with more stunts! Who watches these shows? And, by examining a ratings list, www.tvweek.com/ratings, it seems that many of the days highest are these reality shows, or shows that I simply don’t understand.

I recognize that TV is iconic and a symbol of the dumbing down of America, but to see it in full frontal view is, well, astonishing. It makes me mad. And, although I don’t foresee giving up Heroes or Bones, I am getting fed up. Why would we sit there, every night, minimum of two hours a night, or 14 hours a week, and watch this crap? Have books become so unpopular that we no longer remember what it was like to have an imagination? Are we so embroiled in our debt-ridden lives that the only release we have is to turn to gooey Jell-O on the couch? Why don’t we get mad? What would it take for us to stand up, turn off the TVs, and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

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For Cristi

Simply, for Cristi.

Matty will be posting a blog today regarding my late sister, Cristi. It’s interesting how death affects us. In August, my family made a resolution to have a yearly Cristi Challenge to allow her memory to live on vividly in all of us. Cristi was a go-getter. She was ambitious, driven, passionate, and a humanitarian. She had her faults, some of which she was proud of, like her drinking. But, she didn’t smoke, anything. Drinking, it was her release. I don’t generally condone drinking because of what it did to my biological father, and historically, I’ve never enjoyed being around drunk people. They have bad breath. But, exceptions can be made, and for Cristi they had to be.

She generally had a take me as I am front. But, it was just a front. She craved acceptance for her choices, her life. And her last boyfriend, the one who killed her couldn’t let her be the flower she needed to be to bloom. One starving for acceptance, and another starving for control, a situation that turned lethal. I was shocked when it was said this qualified under Domestic Violence. A duh moment, if you will. How can Domestic Violence be a part of my family? How can something so cruel and viscous be in our lives every day now for the rest of our lives? I will probably always cry when I think of that, realize that.

Although, we’re not over it, we’re also beyond life’s not fair. You have to be, simply to move on. So, instead of What Would Jesus Do, or Who Wants Jack Daniels, it is now What Would Cristi Do? At least once a year. The goal is to do something you’ve always wanted, pondered about, or just challenges you in anyway. And, we’ll think of Cristi as our Coach looking over us, watching us, guiding us, leading the way. I think this has been the fire lit under my butt recently. Things that I can sometimes sweep under the rug, I am more convicted to say something. The creeping passive-aggressive deep within my soul is being squelched, and like when I was pregnant, my tolerance for intolerance is looming at an all-time low. Then, I think of Cristi, and what she would do.

Every day. Every day, I pass by her candle on the counter. Every day, I wonder where she is. Every day, I hope there is a heaven she can be in. Every day I hope her bad deeds did not outweigh her good. Every day I hope and try to take the good she did and incorporate it into mine. Maybe everyone can participate in their own version of a Cristi Challenge, and be the humanitarian she was.