Monday, December 1, 2008

The True $pirit of Chri$tma$

The temporary insanity know as the Christmas shopping season is upon us. The day known as Black Friday in the retail world came and went with better than expected sales and just one minor disruption: a man's death.

A temporary worker at a Long Island Wal-Mart was trampled to death, not because he refused to honor a rain check or a competitor's ad but because he could not open the store's doors and get out of the way fast enough to avoid dozens of crazed shoppers trying to be the first ones to save 25-percent on next year's "Oh, I forgot we even had this" item.

Wal-Mart will rightly come in for its share of criticism and condemnation for not anticipating and properly preparing for this type of situation . Based on the events of the last several Christmas shopping seasons, any responsible retailer could have foreseen that it was only a matter of time before someone was killed.

In fact, several other retailers, such as best Buy, did foresee this possibility and were prepared appropriately. Wal-Mart, however, rolled back common sense when they rolled back prices for the start of the shopping season.

But the blame is not Wal-Mart's alone. We as consumers are as much to blame. Our need to always have the latest and greatest whatchamacallit fuels these shopping frenzies and increases the likelihood each year that such tragedies can occur until this year one finally did.

For a number of years it has been all over but the shouting. Now it is official. We have truly lost the meaning and perhaps as importantly the spirit of Christmas. The holiday is at last best marked with "Merry Xmas" rather than "Merry Christmas".

Christmas, of course, began as a day to mark and celebrate the birth of Christ. But even atheists celebrated the season as one in which to promote peace on earth and goodwill toward humanity. The Christmas season was a time when we each stopped to reflect on our better sides and on our hopes for a better world.

Now, all of that seems gone. A man has died. Unlike the first Christmas-related fatality two-thousand years ago, this death will not be followed by a resurrection.

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