Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Christmas Monsters
M Alan Roberts

As a severe winter storm passes left to right across the US leaving power grids compromised and sheets of ice behind, the masses are preparing for the world's favorite holiday again. Christmas - a time that is supposed to instill warm feelings of family, community, love and compassion - is upon us, and so are the Christmas Monsters.

The malls are filled with people who, strapped for cash, are spending next month's rent money in order to provide gifts that will soon be forgotten, returned or sold at yard sales. They have shopping lists a mile long. They have been trying to work extra hours. They know that they are going too far in debt, yet they are compelled to keep spending what they do not have. They have to - or else they may be considered to be cheapskates - scrooges - non-caring, non-gifting destroyers of the holiday spirit itself. They do not want to be Christmas-slaying monsters.

Driven by their need for acceptance and the approval of others, they forge into their shopping endeavors with reckless abandon; they long to be done with it so that they can begin to figure out a way to save their housing, retain their credit ratings and still be able to eat when the leftovers are gone. During the days, they try to appear unaffected. They want to come off as being happy to shop, run in a frenzied pace and go utterly broke. They want to experience this true joy of giving. They are unaware that there are monsters on their backs.

So the day draws near. They stay awake late and wrap loads of gifts for their children. Their children will have the best Christmas ever. They will have more gifts than their friends. They will receive the most-sought after gifts as well. Their homes will feature the most glutton-pleasing meals with tons of gut-stretching goodies. Everyone here will eat themselves sick and then some. When the kiddies go out in the hood after the gift opening session on Christmas morning, the neighbors will see just who really goes all out for Christmas around their area. It will be they who receive the unspoken honors of the community. They will be looked upon as the generous - the loving - the unselfish. The monsters are laughing now with insidious delight.

On Christmas Eve night, unable to sleep although exhausted both physically and mentally, they lie in bed wondering how they are going to come out from under the financial burdens presented by the coming day of giving. They see themselves taking on double shifts. They envision negotiations with creditors and utility companies. The contemplate crime and they consider the minuscule probabilities of winning state lotteries. Online gambling crosses their minds as well. Finally, they enter the land of dreams as their overloaded minds can take no more. And all the while, the Christmas Monsters are relishing their agony.

What's that? A tugging, a tapping: voices.

The children are awake and know that Santa has come. In the night, he has visited and left stockings stuffed with goodies, gifts by the dozens, a feast in the waiting and so much more. It is 6 in the morning and the children can take no more waiting. As the family gathers around the tree snapping photos, there is an internal and unspoken sense of relief. Let this dreaded day pass so that I can get back to living - so that I can begin to dig my way out of the moneyless pit.

The monsters have jumped on to the shoulders of the children,  now. They are almost visible as the children tear through their gifts with unappreciative, lightning speeds. With just a corner of the wrapping off, they develop "the look" of disappointment as they come to know that this one was not "the" gift that they were hoping for. They quickly put aside the substandard gift and reach for the next one - barely taking the time to look up into the camera with the false thanks they have been taught to present. When they finally do get that reserved gift - the blessed one of all of their desire - they are elated. They are happy. This rocks! The children are pleased! I am not a scrooge. I have done well. I am loved by my family!

The majority of the gifts are laying in the living room floor. The children have all made off to their own spaces with the gifts that they were truly seeking. It's difficult to even get them to take the rest to their rooms. Family and other visitors sit around gorging food down their throats - mindless to the fact that it isn't even paid for yet. They fatten their bodies and gather their gifts for departure - most not even offering to help clean a single dish. The entire day feels like a giant mess of lacking appreciation, wasted money and the dread of Monday when work begins again - as well as the calls from the creditors.

The Christmas Monsters haven't left yet though - oh no. They will stay for at least a few months yet. They want to be there every day when the givers are suffering to pay back all that they have spent. That is their true monsterly delight - extended suffering. Next week, when the newness of the gifts has worn away, the food supply is low, money is super tight and everyone seems driven to despair, the providers of Christmas will again be reduced to commoners. The neighbors didn't brag like they were supposed to. The spouses didn't continue to offer praise and favor. The children didn't start to get better grades or improve their behavior patterns. The only winners here are the monsters that sit and watch the suffering.

Ho Ho Ho.

M Alan Roberts is a radical thinker. He has a gimlet eye for injustice, much as did Frederich Engels, a century and a half before. Still, Roberts finds a way to write effective SEO copy. This suggests both sides of his brain, his mind, work equally well.

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