Lines at Christmas

So it’s the day after Thanksgiving.  We try to go out for breakfast, and find the only parking lot without circling Detroit vultures is a diner thirty minutes away.  It’s a nice drive at eight a.m.,  hence not a problem.  Then I send my husband off so I can try to get some work done, and after deciding he’ll implode if he takes both kids- he leaves me with a cranky, tired, twenty month old and takes the three and a half year old. Do I get anything done?  If you have children, you do not need to ponder this question.

When he finally returns, after filling the older child up with scone and popcorn in their travels, he tells a tale of woe trying to find brown socks on a day when “lines went from the cash registers to the backs of the stores and there were no parking spaces- at one in the afternoon! I thought all the crazies would be gone by then.  So I went to the hardware store.  No lines.”  Then a  “Harrumph” of triumph.  No socks either, but a few other things on his list I guess.

I have to say I am surprised.  I have always heard about black Friday and avoided it.  I didn’t think it was so bad, I mean really.  Get up at four a.m. on a day off to go score a Barbie VW for 1/3 off the regular price?  Do people honestly get flat screen tv’s for a steal on this day?  I shrug and think: like graduation in a college town, it’s just another reason to stay off the streets.  A few years back I got an email about a movement to boycott the day entirely.  Sure I thought- do what I would do normally and feel morally superior for it.

I drink a cup of tea, watching sunshine stream in the window past the lopsided, recently erected facsimile of a pine tree complete with finger smudged and tampered ornaments.  I think that the Libertarians and the Scientologists ought to get together.  The operating belief systems seem to be very compatible, even if the historical roots are a little wacky.  I just got a chance to read about the founding and perpetuation of Blackwater hired guns forces, and how they operate the business of killing.  The yak they spread is self-defined as libertarian; offering no health, death, or other benefits but a base rate per day check to former military types. 

I heard from the investment director for Husband’s retirement funds (the only “option” he is allowed by the way, being a state employee) that he is a proud, die hard libertarian.  Not the brightest of bulbs either, and both features leave us awake at night, sweating at the thought of where we’ll be in forty years.  Capitalism is its own animal in this United States, and has always had an uneasy relationship with notions of Democracy.  The fun house mirrors that are currently paraded as foundational ideas of “democracy” scare me.  Capitalism needs no image revision, no celebrity.  It is alive and well, scoring billions for the rich and flat screen TV’s for the reaching working class (which includes just about anyone who has to report to work now, given how wages have stagnated, health care costs, etc.). 

Libertarians have a great shtick- work hard, get what you deserve.  Taxes are a joke; society will function fine without public support for any programs.  Kill the government and most of our problems will go away.  Being a libertarian has become a highly popular, and even cool label for people to claim in recent months.  Between Hillary, Obama, Guiliani, and Fred (“just Fred”), a lot of people are discovering libertarianism as the anti Democratic-Republican option.  “Money-Lite!  The perfect diet option for your government needs!”  Who would run under this label is another issue.

Then there is the club that would-not-have-most-as-members, Scientology.  The shtick is good- if you work hard, and obtain “clarity” (a mash up of self knowledge, self importance, and networking with people the club deems important), you’ll get what you deserve and be able to feel self righteous about it, moral even.  See?  Operating assumption very similar, and gaining just as much celebu-popularity.

Oh- and we must not dismiss the ever popular, mega-church evangelical call of “God wants you to be rich”.  The mantra of those Christian Amway salespersons in the 70’s and 80’s, it is still a popular way to sell religion and membership.  Only in this variation, it seems to be appear to be good, appear to work hard, and you’ll get what you deserve.  The details are a little fuzzy, and can be written off to the convenient last minute option of redemption no matter what one does in life.

Notions of charity, goodwill, social responsibility, and “do unto others” seems to be, well, missing from all of these operating positions.  As every inflatable crèche goes up this weekend from mall to church side yard, I wonder what relation any of our cultural practices and identifications has to do with the basic teachings of Jesus. In my lazy, over-simplified way I distill biblical morality into two principles, or “Do’s”:  Do unto others as you would have them do to you (a very complex notion, and includes issues of social responsibility), and the old testament rule of Care for the earth and all that is in it.  The big 7 Deadlies and the 10 Don’ts hawked by everyone from G.W. Bush to your local plaid or frock wearing, comb-over minister still matter but if the 2 “Do’s” are adhered to, it seems that the Deadlies and Don’ts follow as a matter of course, and need a lot less attention paid to them.

Running to get bargains?  Well, as the film Wallstreet made famous, “Greed is good”, right?  The Libertarians, Scientologists, and Disney-esque (Ah, Steve Jobs and the Pixar take over- another rant) Supersized Mega Churches might blush a little, but nod their collective heads in agreement.  Go get those bargains you Free Americans you! 

I don’t claim to be any better or less muddled, but different.  Ok, different sometimes, by choice, when I can. But right now I have to take an insulin crashed toddler upstairs to lie down.

Black Friday indeed.

Blog in the forest

Does a blog make a sound when it falls into the internet forest if no one reads it? So I begin.  This unintentionally neo-Erma Bombeckian  (bet you have not heard THAT before!   This phrase is part of our new post-dinner game; words or phrases that are highly unlikely to be heard in conversation) blog is out in the world.  Cheers.