The Good Ship This End Up
INTERESTING STUFF – 24 November 2018

Crabby Old Lady and the Holiday Season

At the risk of being labeled a Grinch, Crabby Old Lady is tired of the holiday season already. She always is by now, the day after Thanksgiving. There are a whole lot of good reasons:

It starts in September. That's when Crabby saw her first Christmas TV commercial this year. Let Crabby repeat: IN SEPTEMBER. That turns over four damned months - ONE-THIRD of an entire year - to a holiday that in public has little to do with anything but asks that everyone spend lots of money.

Even before Halloween, half the shelves in Crabby's local “drug” store were filled with artificial trees, chimney stockings, ornaments and other Christmas tchochkes.

Some people refer to Happy Holidays thinking they are being inclusive but that's just window dressing. The American holiday is only about Christmas. Have you ever tried to find a box of Hannukah candles among the mounds of Christmas tinsel? Crabby has had to buy them online for years.

If you don't count the silly and stupid songs, there is a lot of gorgeous Christmas music in the world. But by November, having already heard it constantly repeated through every tinny store speaker too many times, it's not beautiful anymore – It's just annoying earworms.

And woe to any retailer who doesn't join the Christmas decoration parade. We're all brainwashed and it has nothing to do with a Christian holiday. It's all and only about excessive consumerism. Did you know that a couple of years ago five people were killed in the Black Friday rush and 105 injured?

However, just so you know Crabby Old Lady isn't entirely a curmudgeon, she has a fondness for the British tradition of Christmas adverts, lavishly produced by the country's large (and some smaller) retailers.

This year John Lewis and Co. sucked in Crabby with The Boy and the Piano, a story about:

”...the power of a gift. And how that gift inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John.

"The film begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton’s life right until the moment on Christmas morning when he received the special gift that changed his life.”

A large number of the British Christmas adverts have been published on the internet (“Already?” says Crabby). You can watch a bunch of them here.


'Tis the season. You chose a lovely one of the adverts to kick things off today, Ronni. Thank you -- it was a perfect start to what will be a mostly quiet day at our house.

I may have said this, and maybe more than once over the years here, but nearly two decades ago I was struck by the thought that it's always almost Christmas. Between pre- and post- sales, Christmas in July sales, the extending of Black Friday and the addition of the days that came with online sales, it just hit me one year that we seemed constantly to be in the midst of this. That's when I began dialing back in my own life. I had never been a bug shopper even before that , but I slowed way down then and do very little these days. People always need money and unless there's something really personal and special that I can make or do or get for someone, cash is mostly what I give now -- let people do their own shopping.

Ha -- that should have been "never been a big shopper". Actually I like most bugs, but have never shopped for any.

I have never in my life shopped on Black Friday. Usually had all my shopping done by the end of September because I worked very long hours through the holidays. I just don't get the whole thrill of doing it.

I love that video of Elton John. Thanks for sharing it.

And a "Bah Humbug!" for us both, Ronni. You voiced my own thoughts again in today's post. Thank you.

For me, I think Dickens' novella, "A Christmas Carol" gives a view of this holiday that has true human merit. As most of us here know, it had to do the the hard times of winter and the value of sharing what one had with those that have little. I can't say I'm optimistic about the commercialism ever ending these days, but can't give up the hope that one day folks will be unplugging the "Christmas $$ Machine" as it now reigns in our culture.

With no books allowed in the house I grew up in, I discovered Dickens after I was married. I understood Scrooge and the sad lonely little boy that brought him into adulthood. I too, value the rare dreams I can remember now and then. They always seem helpful to the here and now....which is sometimes difficult.

Believe it or not...I bought my own self an Uncle Scrooge mantel stocking a few years ago in one of those 75% off *seductions* in an overloaded drugstore in Nevada. It is large and hilarious, and I can fill it with tiny candy canes and hang it on my mailbox post for the wee passersby.

Thank you for the lovely Elton John video, Ronni. Remember, time flies regardless, so soon it will be January.:-)

And a very merry Friday for us all !!

You do not sound like a grinch. I am sixty-seven. About ten years ago I just lost interest in all of the hullabaloo surrounded the holidays. I had enough good reasons for downsizing the holidays to justify my decision to not engaging in gift exchange and cooking huge stressful and very un fun holidays meals for the dysfunctional family.

The one thing I kept was the lights. Pretty delicate white lights which bring cheer to this darker time of year. I attend a few functions, but the luster has definitely worn off. I am always glad when January arrives.

Perhaps if I had children, I would feel differently, but there was only one week out of my life in which I dreamed of having children. And when I say "one week" I speak of approximately seven different moments spread over my childbearing years in which the thought of becoming a mother stuck in my mind for a few minutes.

My best wishes to you, Ronni. I have been reading your blog since it first began. I send love, strength and peace to you.


Dear Crabby~ You sleigh me ! :-) Thanks, Ronni

Right on all counts as always, Ronni. The two things that still make Christmas worthwhile to me are spending time with my kids and grandkids and singing good Christmas music. I happen to belong to a fine choir, and nothing beats singing the Bach and Britten written for this season. I also love listening to my Christmas CDs, especially one by Jesse Norman. Glorious.

Ah Crabby. It’s so true. Our families got off the $$$ Christmas train many years ago. We are culturally mixed, so that season has become a family time. Sure, gifts are exchanged and the kids are excited beyond words during the season, but our rule is that no one goes into debt over it all. Some gifts are envelopes containing vouchers for a special event, or in the case of those of us who are older who really need nothing, a dinner out, or a charitable donation in our name to a special cause. The voucher could also be for a service like a car wash or doing laundry, costing absolutely nothing.
Perhaps we could start a movement boycotting businesses who start advertising before, say, November 15 th. Dollars talk.

Elton john, like Billy Joel. Two "old" rockers who are National Treasures. Long may they live.

I posted this same commercial recently. Love Elton John and the story here is so well done. But I have an intense dislike of the holidays. From mid-November to mid-January I rarely leave the house. I hate the crowds and commercialism. I came to hate this time decades ago when an overbearing mother-in-law always insisted the holidays be done her way at her convenience (never mind that I had family too). And her idea of Christmas was bestowing the most outrageously expensive gift she could think of, turning it into some sort of contest. It was a time when my ex and I fought constantly -- over her and how to spend the holidays.

But to those who revel in this holiday season, I wish you and yours peace and joy.

Here's my theory. All nature pulls in and hunkers down for the coldest time of the year. Ancient and wiser humans too. Time to hibernate, go "down to winter, " into the darkness, and dream. Can't you just hear screams of "OH NO! Where's my I-Pad, is there a party tonight? Buy, buy, buy, even if you don't have the money. Slow down and actually see or know something , are you kidding? Too scary.

"If I could, I would go down to winter
with the drowsy she bear
crawl beneath the hill side with her
and lie cradled." Mary Oliver

Not sure if you'll have seen this Boots Christmas ad from 2014? It's very low-key and seems to encapsulate to me far more about what Christmas means than all the big productions.

One of the many things I am thankful for on that I have absolutely no need to shop for anything on Black Friday.

Oh Ronni, I certainly share your sentiments regarding the holiday season! And then some...

I am not a religious person, so Christmas never held any significance for me in that respect. And I have spent my lifetime watching as Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas has increasingly become an obscenely marketed commodity.

I don't watch TV, and as a consequence I am not bombarded with never ending ads. However, even a trip to the grocery store is filled with unavoidable holiday displays.

It all sickens me. In a world with so many people who struggle to survive, to find food, to be safe, to be healthy, we in the USA behave shamefully.

I feel a kinship with Susan who talks of her "over-bearing mother-in-law" who controlled all things Christmas. My mother was exactly the same. Christmas Eve at her home, like it or not, and gifts that none of wanted or needed, including the children in the family who hated having to attend this "sellabration".
Then my beloved brother died of brain cancer on Christmas Eve, and in our dark humor moment, we all thanked him for choosing that moment, knowing that it would be the end of my mother wanting to celebrate on Christmas Eve ever again.
I hate all the commercialism that begins in Sept and goes unabated until January. We're in a world where we ignore poverty, hunger, and homelessness, except for the holidays when we can feel sanctimonious by throwing a few coins and gifts their way.
My heart goes out to those in Paradise, California, mostly seniors, who have lost EVERYTHING and barely have any hope of recovery. Where does a senior go back to work to be able to buy the necessities, much less a place to live?

You're right spot on. It seems to me Christmas season has advanced too much monetarily. I miss the fifties, not just for the nostalgia over bubble lights. Monetary indulgence like today would have put a retailer out of business. From the end of October to January 1, the U.S. is out to lunch. Disgusting, and impossible if you want to get anything tangible done. We just hunker down until January when most of this population comes off of being googled eyed.
Oh yes, we still use an artificial Christmas tree bought at a bankruptcy auction about 1980. B

The 2018 Sainsbury ad "The Big Night" is simply wonderful, and there is another video that shows rehearsals and the kids' conversations about it. The parents of the participants were in the audience and hadn't seen any of it before the performance, so their reactions were genuine. So much fun.

P.S. The first concert I ever attended was Elton John. I was 14, and it was amazing!

I think the final straw was the day in September I walked into WalMart and saw the entire, very long rows stretching out before me of Halloween candies, costumes, cards, and all kinds of chachkas -- and just past that, more aisle after aisle of Christmas trees with lights flashing, and rack after rack of kids' toys, and between the wider rows banks were stacks of colorful gift wrappings and tree stands!!

That did it for me!! I ran almost screaming from that store and swore never to step foot in there or any other store until March of the next year. Fortunately, WalMart has now started a new system whereby you can order all your groceries and anything else in the store or their warehouse online and then swing by in your car and pick everything up already bagged and carried to your car or have them delivered to your house for a small fee and paid for with my ever strained debit card!

Lordy, lordy what a liberating feeling that is -- especially at the holiday season, which now appears to be nearly all year-round!

I don’t know anyone who get caught up in this. Why would you?

Love that commercial.

I never shop on Black Friday, even online. We stopped giving presents as a family about 10 years ago, and no one misses it. As long as our family gathers for a meal and catching up, we are satisfied.

I liked Christmas when I was a kid in a family. But since then . . . and particularly for the many years I've lived alone . . . yuck. I too am a big fan of Dickens' Christmas Carol, but even that has been commercialized. So, bah, humbug, from me too. Cannot WAIT for January 2nd.

And thanks, Crabby, for turning up today. I always adore hearing from you.

Like others here, I have generally avoided Black Friday entirely for many years now, and I don't even decorate for Christmas any more (I know, kind of a Scrooge). But today, returning home from visiting my sister who lives a couple of hours from my home, I made the concession to drop into a Target early in the morning (no crowds at all) and bought the remastered White Album by the Beatles. She and I sat around listening to it before I got on the road, and it was a delight.

Yes yes yes to all the above. I just had one of the best Thanksgivings of my life. Fresh out of the hospital, I had dinner at home--which my son and his girlfriend cooked. My house is small. We had my daughter and her husband, my son's girlfriend's parents, her son, and four small dogs. Such happy chaos. And they managed to bring it off. I am feeling grateful.

To hell with the holiday stuff. I wish I could boycott stores that start the Christmas push before Hallowe'en, but then I couldn't buy food!

Just watched the video. I love it!

All of the above 1000000000000x.

Our family enjoys getting together up north at my bro's lakeside home. We all contribute to the meal, bro cooks the turkey. We sit around telling old family stories, listen to 60's music, appreciate the fact that we're relatively healthy.

I took public bus and metro into the city yesterday, ordered coffee inside the metro station close to a homeless shelter. On exiting the metro, a blast of Christmas music echoed from inside as commuters rushed in and out the doors.

To my right, an older homeless man was digging deep into a trash bin. Half his body was in the bin. He stood up and looked around.

The cross fire of Christmas music played like a torturous tease against the reality of what that man was doing.

So I approached the guy and asked if he would like a hot cup of coffee. I wasn't even sure what language he might speak, so I asked in English.

He straightened up, looked directly into my eyes and said "yes,

thank you so much and have yourself a good day."

Everything about that made my day.

I got my hair cut in Chinatown for $12 and walked all the way back on Ste. Catherine Street to Atwater, then metro and bus home.

I'm with you, Crabby! I breathe a sigh of relief annually when the craziness is over for another year!

Ive been disgusted with the commercialism suffocating the meaning of most holidays celebrated in the U.S. for years and it gets worse each year. I find no joy in these so-called special shopping days this time of year. I think about when I was young and there were no holiday sales promotions until after Thanksgiving — but not now! TV and radio news advt sickens me with their “news items”(?) about sales figures, shoppers lining up for ridiculous shopping hours and mauling each other. Too bad everybody doesn’t go on strike and simply not shop then. I didn’t get sucked into that madness when I was younger and I surely don’t now.

As is commonplace, most of what I would say has already been said eloquently, starting with Crabby. My husband and I will decorate minimally and purchase prudently as we always try to do (admittedly with varying degrees of success in our younger years)

When I was still employed, I worked for a nonprofit service agency that served almost 100% indigent and low-income clients; many were homeless before homelessness became a "civic emergency". For years I used to shop starting in the summer for basics (warm shirts, sweaters, socks, thermal undies, toiletries) and usually ended up with gifts for about 12 individuals. These were carefully wrapped and delivered on the day of the Christmas party the agency gave every year for our clients. I have neither the financial resources nor physical ability to do that now--and the agency has since closed--but I miss it.

I want to do what little I can to help displaced elders in (what used to be) Paradise, CA. I hesitate to write a check to The Red Cross since who knows where the funds will actually end up? I'd like to find a reputable local organization in the affected area. (Since scammers are undoubtedly out in force as they always are after any major disaster, caution is indicated.)

I love Crabby Old Lady. She's my favorite part of Ronni.

Before I stopped buying presents, about 20 years ago, I was always done before Thanksgiving. Since all of my family lived overseas I had to do it early, but it also avoided the insanity, and I haven’t been in a mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas as long as I can remember.

Even in The Netherlands, where my family lives, they now have Black Friday. Pretty soon they’ll have Thanksgiving.

Black Friday has come to Israel, and Israelis barely know about Thanksgiving.

Everyone seems to be in the same boat a propos American Holidays. I, like others will not go into any retail or mall stores from Labor Day to New Years. I expect Memorial Day and July 4th, both worth contemplation as to their meanings but probably not too far in the future they too will become pure consumer based.
If anyone knows a reputable local aid agency in Paradise, I too would like to know of it.

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