There’s something off-putting about shopping malls, especially at Christmas time. Halloween is bad enough, with the life-sized skeletons and witches appearing around Labour Day. And don’t get me started on the ‘happy Halloween’ mantra everyone yells now. Talk about a commercial bastardization- I well remember when All Hallows Eve was a celebration of the dead and was meant to scare us little buggers into compliance. We used to get dressed up to ward off the goblins and ghosts, not embrace them. But October 31st is now the second most lucrative sales day. However, it’s still a pale imitation of the real reason we can bear the drag of long, cold, grey days.

The crown, of course, belongs to Christmas, which officially starts the day after Halloween. Costco is always first out of the gate with the full-sized blow-up lawn ornaments and dazzling pre-lit trees on display. Then the interminable background music begins looping through every loudspeaker in Christendom. I like that word – Christendom.

And have you noticed? People are saying Merry Christmas again. It’s taken 20 years or so, but as we get more multi-cultural and diverse, we who celebrate what Christmas means are taking it back from the ‘Happy Holidays’ passive-aggressive mean-nothing crowd.

nutcrackAll right. Rant is done for this morning. I am amazed-appalled at how frenzied and gaudy Christmas has become. Forget the breathtaking commercial aspects of the holiday season and the relentless pressure to buy, buy, buy. The displays of trees and giant cartoon character elves, baubles and ornaments seem more glittery and dangly than ever. Santa’s big chair has been transformed into a fabric village with gigantic candies, leaping glossy reindeer and giant-headed elves.

I came across this photo of a ballet production of the Nutracker on my FlipBoard feed and said, wow. We used to take our children to the ballet but I’d never seen costumes quite so grand or heads quite so big or the Nutcracker quite so…out there.

“Things have changed since the olden days, Grandma”, my grandson Aidan would say. And I’d reply in my fake wavering granny voice, “They sure have, dear. They sure have.”