Katy Bourne

Christmas: Have We Lost Our (bleeping) Minds?

POSTED ON December 02, 2013 | POSTED IN: My Blog | 4 Comments




Black Friday. The mad crush of humanity at its worst.

We’ve watched aghast another year as images on the nightly news and throughout social media show people clawing, punching, scratching, kicking and sometimes even shooting to get to the holy grail of discounted flat screens, gaming consoles and i-gadgets. This odious ritual has become the unofficial (and unfortunate) kickoff to the holiday season. “Deck the halls” has turned into “deck other people in the malls.” Elves tremble in fear and department store Santas reach for their flasks. Somewhere, Jesus is letting out a weary sigh. It’s a real drag when a fight breaks out on your birthday. God is definitely facepalming.

Have we lost our fucking minds?

Advertising has certainly had a part in creating this mess. Slick campaigns invent an impossible ideal. Christmas is equated with beautiful couples standing in Christmas tree lots. He presents her with a glittery bauble. They embrace. Snow falls. Bells jingle. Stuff equals magic. No product is immune. Hell, if we even just brew the perfect cup of the right kind of coffee, we can all be together again. No drunken relatives or familial dysfunction–just sparkling bliss with a bow on top. Advertisers are pedaling the best dope ever and we want those cozy feelings so badly that we’re willing to chase down that mythos even if it kills us (or the guy standing next to us at Best Buy). We bake. We shop. We run around and we stress. We camp out in front of box stores on Thanksgiving and beat each other up over television sets. We’re like deranged Christmas zombies on crack. We’ll get our comfort and joy if it’s the last damn thing we do.

But is this how we want to be?

I say we pull the plug on the whole insane affair, or at least try a more humane approach to it all. Rethinking how we do Christmas can be an act of epic liberation. We don’t have to pound each other over cheap electronics or make ourselves mental staging some fabricated version of the “perfect” Christmas. We’re better than that.  We can channel our collective creativity to come up with something that is calmer, friendlier and a whole lot more fun. What I’m suggesting is a joint effort but here are a few ideas to get us started:

  Instead of baking cookies for everyone you know, save time and bake one giant cookie for everyone to share. Invite your friends and family to drop by for a bite.


If someone gives you a fruitcake, use it as a football. Nobody wants to eat that shit, so take it to the park and toss it around with your kids. You’ll burn off a few extra calories and if anyone asks, you can honestly say that you enjoyed the fruitcake.


Dance. I mean it, dude. Crank up the tunes and shake your ass. Hit the club or funk it up in the kitchen. It all works. The Almighty Get Down is a great stress reliever. It also helps you to relax those firmly clenched buttocks and stop taking everything so seriously. 


Throw up some lights. They’re super cheap (You can get a box at Bartell’s for less than five bucks. For reals, folks.) They’re also pretty. It’s a falling-off-a-log easy way to be festive.


Sing your favorite Christmas carols in Pig Latin. It will challenge your brain and entertain the youngsters in your tribe. Wearing reindeer antlers scores extra points.


Go to a Christmas Eve service. Whether you believe or not, the story of the Nativity is beautiful and mysterious. And the calm of the church will give your monkey mind a chance to quiet itself.


If you’re picking out a present for someone, instead of asking yourself, “How would this look in (insert name here)’s living room (or kitchen or study or whatever), ask, “How will this look in a landfill?” OK, maybe that’s a little harsh for some of you, but we really have to start thinking bigger picture. The change has to begin sometime and with some generation. How about now and with us?


Stop shopping. Just. Stop.


Give small gifts of kindness. Open a door for an old lady. Let someone in traffic. Scrape the ice off the neighbor’s windshield. Pay the harried cashier a compliment. Make eye contact and grin big.


As you’re driving down the street or walking along the sidewalk, wish blessings to strangers that you pass: “May she get the best hug ever today.” “May he come into some unexpected cash.” “May they have a great afternoon together.”  Give it a try. I swear you’ll have fun and it will make you feel a little magic.


These are just a few random ideas but you get the idea. Christmas doesn’t have to be a psychotic break or a fistfight. If our observation of the holiday involves hurting each other, then we really have lost our minds. We might as well crawl back to our caves because we’ve dropped a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder.

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Although many of us take a more secular approach to the holiday, the root themes of peace, light and joy are still meaningful and relevant. However we personally define Christmas, I have to believe it is manifest through the highest and brightest parts of ourselves. And how we celebrate it is a direct reflection of who we are.

So what’s it going to be?




4 responses to “Christmas: Have We Lost Our (bleeping) Minds?”

  1. Dez See says:

    Great sentiment and right on target for the season (not a plug for target). Hay, is that a toaster tat? How cool and unique.
    I like toast.

  2. Terry says:

    Sweet essay, babe. I don’t think we will ever get Retail America to stop the ads or change the Black Friday, Cyber Monday crap. The key is to refrain from participating in it, which most of us do, I believe. I’m with you on blinkie lights, dancing and Christmas Eve services…soul enrichment!

    • admin says:

      Thans for reading and commenting.

      You’re probably right that the retail frenzy attendant with Christmas is here to stay. But for the love of God, we could at least restore some civility, right?

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Katy Bourne is a Jazz Singer and Writer.