Shopping Carnage Reaches New Pinnacle

    Oh dear god, the holiday season has arrived. And if it only
    meant added family time, better eats, Christmas decorating and celebrating
    Jesus’ birth — despite my spiritual limbo — I’d be down for all the hoo-ha.

    But of course, the hordes of hysterical shoppers rearing to
    empty their wallets and fill their hands are flooding malls nationwide as
    usual. In fact, their presence during last week’s Black Friday — the year’s
    official kickoff for holiday shopping — was stronger than ever, according to
    big-name retailers like Sears, Macy’s Inc. and Toys “R” Us. Despite the economic
    downturn and apparent dormany of consumerism in the previous months, folks
    still turned out more determined and ridiculous than ever to shop, shop, shop.

    And that’s what I don’t understand — the mad, almost
    kamikaze-like behavior that infects shoppers around the holidays. And then
    every year, despite my hopes that people will somehow come to their senses, the
    crowds get crazier.

    This year, for example, Kohl’s stores nationwide opened
    their doors at 4 a.m. — an hour earlier than last year — so the impatient,
    paranoid shoppers could beat the sleepers and score extra savings on useless
    items. Buyers took the bait.

    Sears and Macy’s were a similar story; both stores greeted
    with long lines of anxious consumers before doors were even set to open. The
    Macy’s in New York City’s Herald Square, which normally opens at 6 a.m. the
    Friday after Thanksgiving, was forced to welcome the throng of people at 5:30
    a.m. to ebb the line of 3,000 people that formed outside the shop’s doors. Now
    that’s just silly.

    While I can understand and even sympathize with the pressure
    of finding that perfect gift on a tight budget, I have to wonder where we draw
    the line in the shopping madness.

    Don’t people care about beauty sleep anymore, or have they
    become that desperate? And what about years from now, will consumers arrive at
    2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. to claim their goods?

    And if all this preplanning is really necessary to check off
    all the names on our Christmas lists, then it’s time to reexamine our holiday
    priorities. I love shoes, coats and gadgets as much as the next girl, but hell,
    darkness was made for sleeping — not for shopping.

    I will, however, admit the lure of holiday sales. This past
    weekend I nearly found myself caught up in the spending euphoria during a
    harmless expedition to Target for Christmas decor.

    My brother, like every other American 8-year-old, is
    requesting a Nintendo Wii this Christmas. And, like parents everywhere, mine
    were without the perfect gift and instead met only by sold-out stores.

    My stepmom called it a holiday nightmare because there was
    just no chance at finding another gift. After all, my parents would be the last
    to spoil my brother’s belief in Santa. So of course, during my battle with the
    masses at Target, I wandered — more like pushed my way through screaming kids
    and miles of carts — over to the electronics section hoping to save the day.

    And there they were: the last two Nintendo Wii consoles in
    the entire store, and likely all of San Diego County.

    Hopping in line and buzzed with the rush of achievement and
    victory, I waited my turn in the check-out line for what seemed like nearly an

    And when the clerk finally handed over that pearly white
    box, I did a little happy dance inside. But soon my excitement faded and I felt
    embarrassed by my desperation. I had just boiled down the Christmas spirit to
    the short-lived joy of obtaining a silly game console that will be “so last
    season” a year from now.

    So with Wii in hand, I left Target feeling torn — I was
    relieved because my brother could go another year blissfully believing in the
    red-suited fat man, but saddened by my lack of understanding of the holiday. In
    an effort to boost my morale, I made a resolution.

    This year, I’m going to handle Christmas like an adult
    should — calm, cool and collected — and I’m going to put aside the fretting
    over gifts and remember all the things it’s really about.

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