Layaway in a manger

Jessica Bratt Uncategorized 4 Comments

I’d like to introduce you to someone. His name is Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus.

His creators, the nice people at RetailMeNot.com, offer us this bio:



“Who is Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus? Why he’s the King of OctoNovemCember, that magical shopping season when the great deals from one-day-only holiday sales are available every day. He embodies all that is good about the holidays, from the pleasant glow of a jack-o-lantern to the comforting warmth of a Thanksgiving turkey to the gift-giving spirit of old St. Nick. Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus is a savvy, sociable being who’s dedicated to making sure that shoppers around the world save as much as possible on holiday gifts and more.”

I think he’s a freakish monster. So he’s actually a perfect mascot for a three-month, uninterrupted getting-and-spending-fest. Really, RetailMeNot? OctoNovemCember?

And a “magical” season where a “King” “embodies all that is good?” Hm, sounds vaguely familiar, in a nostalgic way.

I see Mr. Turkey Claus has been working with my local Macy’s, where there are Christmas trees blinking among the merchandise, and with Pier 1, where the front windows are a streamlined display of ghosts, witches, and glitzy tree ornaments. He’s even been to CVS, where I can get candy for trick-or-treaters AND red and green Hershey’s Kisses!

I find it interesting that talk of the ‘holidays’ usually commences right after the Jewish high holidays wrap up.  Maybe Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus should sport a shofar so we can get the magical spending season started with the Jewish holy days in September. I guess those days are still holy enough to be out of reach, or at least haven’t been fashioned into widely celebrated secular consumer festivals. Yet.

Layaway is making a comeback, implemented by some major retailers in the past couple years as a response to consumers’ increased willingness to spend even in the face of stagnant cash and credit supplies. Walmart started its holiday layaway program in mid-September, and already has $400 million to show for it. At Toys-r-Us, parents can put early ‘down payments’ on the most-coveted toys. Let’s hope the kids still want that Furby when late December rolls around.

Target’s first holiday ad has been airing for ten days. It asks if we’re ready. (Ready for what? Ready for who? Dunno.)

We’d like to blame the retailers for ‘Christmas creep,’ as it’s called, but of course it’s fueled by all the people who play along, lured by deals and the fantasy of completing to-do lists even before Daylight Saving Time ends.

Poor Advent, how do you put up with this nonsense year after year?

Poor Advent, this year you don’t arrive until December 2! We’ll be ringing in 2013 by then!

Even if baby Jesus did make it into the top 12 ugly Christmas sweaters from last year, it’s small comfort. 

In the midst of such mass cultural worship of the market, it feels increasingly difficult  to find ways to worship the real King, the one who comes in vulnerability and poverty, whose arrival shakes both the prepared and the unprepared to the core.

We are people who can’t wait. Maybe layaway will be the best practice we can muster for living in ‘the already and the not yet.’ As the days shorten and darkness looms, we crave light and love and warmth and belonging and togetherness. And doggone it, maybe this year money can buy it!

What will it take for us to wait, to prepare, to arrive at the manger with open hands and willing hearts, ready to receive?

We are people who can’t wait.

Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus! We can’t wait for you!

Save us from Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus. Save us from ourselves!

 

Comments 4

  1. I've also heard that mixing together all these holidays into an indistinguishable mass is especially harmful to children who need to anticipate specific things and understand the meaning behind them. The same is true for adults, I suppose.

  2. Wow, Jessica. Just when we think it can't possibly get any worse, it gets worse. Thanks for this great post.

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