I think there was a time when people in general enjoyed themselves and had fun around the holiday season.
I'm not sure when it was, however, because it's been a while.
Now, it seems even if you have the temperament to be happy, you're constantly hammered by warnings, guilt and stress. How often do you hear someone ask, "Why do we do this to ourselves?" or remark what a sick society we've created? That's OK; you don't have to count them up.
How is one supposed to react when 2,000 frenzied shoppers trample a Wal-Mart worker to death? In the past, when you heard about stampedes, they ordinarily were in other cultures involving large religious celebrations, pilgrimages or soccer crowds. A panic would spur movement.
In our society, it was shoppers' obsession for some product probably made in China.
Does it mean that this season's hopelessly tainted, or is there some hope of redemption? We can recover, but making it through the rest of the month may seem like running a gantlet, with bombardment from all sides.
What should we have done on Black Friday, then? Followed the dictates of Buy Nothing Day? Surely, many people did without thinking they were making a statement against commercialism.
You can protect yourself from stampeding shoppers by staying home and buying online, but then you hear warnings about your security and privacy being compromised. So you're extra careful, but then read how important it is to shop locally for the sake of the businesses in your greater community.
With the economy continuing its collapse and our leadership seemingly helpless to do anything about it, people are losing jobs, their investments or their pensions. You think it might be prudent to cut back on spending this year. But the kids don't understand such things, especially if there's a family tradition.