A major retailer’s association recently sent their members the results of a survey they had conducted regarding the biggest turnoffs customers have during Christmas shopping. The top three negative comments were: gaudy, over-decorated stores, overly perky or pushy sales staff, and loud Christmas music. I would agree and probably would have added a couple more of my favorites such as overcrowding and price-gouging
Some stores definitely over decorate. The colors of Christmas used to be red and green but somewhere along the way purple, gold, silver and yellow have somehow become part of the scheme. The store associates seem to have had a competition to see which one could slap up the most garland, string the most lights or place the most metal trees. After that, they make the big XMAS SALE sign and put it in the window.
I agree the music is too loud, too. If there was a soft medley of Christmas carols in the background to set the mood, that would be fine, but some of the grating arrangements are hardly recognizable as Christmas music. Nobody should have to shout at Christmas time.
I long for the days when a store put up a real tree and maybe some lights, and a cassette played soft music somewhere in the back. The staff smiled and waved, and hustled over if you beckoned them, and maybe even offered to gift wrap your purchase.
If you met an old friend or neighbour in the store you could carry on a conversation and not be drowned out or bumped or jostled. When you left, the staff would say Merry Christmas without the fear of getting reprimanded, and the store owner would shake your hand and say, “Thanks for shopping here.”
As we draw closer to Christmas day, the trips to the mall and the bank machine seem to become more frequent. Wouldn’t it be nice if in all that light and noise there was somewhere quiet to sit? Here is an observation from one of those frantic afternoons:
I was standing beside Santa’s castle when a lady came by with a four year old boy, and she was in a hurry. The little boy looked at the giant candy canes, the huge chair and of course, he could hear that well known laugh. “Can I see Santa, Mom!?” he cried out. “No son,” she replied, “the lineup is too long and that’s not what Christmas is about anyway!” They disappeared in the crowd, but her answer to him lingered there in the mall.
As I looked around I thought, “What could the little boy possibly have seen that would tell him what Christmas was supposed to be about?” All I could see was Santa in the big chair and that huge sign declaring, “XMAS SALE.” It seems more and more retailers, educators and politicians are trying not to offend a minority of customers, parents and voters. Instead, they offend everyone else, but so few of us stand up and say anything.
I was puzzled and then I thought, maybe someone can answer my question:
If Christmas is for Jesus
Why don’t we see him here?
Why can’t we climb up on his knee,
So we can whisper in his ear,
The questions that we have for him
About what he wants from you and me,
If we’re to celebrate his birthday,
Why is Santa all I see?
If Christmas is for Jesus
Why is it all so loud and bright;
When all he had was just one star
To light a silent night;
When no one rushed or hurried
Or worried just how much to spend,
When I’m sure the only gift he’d give
Is love for family and friend.
If we send Xmas cards, not Christmas cards,
Put up an Xmas light display;
Then all we’ve done is used a cross once more
To hide his name away;
If Christmas is for Jesus,
Then we’ll never grow too old;
We can still believe forever
In the Greatest Story ever told;
If we want them to believe us
It starts with you and me,
Then we can have a Christmas picture
Of our child on Jesus’ knee.
It’s not Xmas or the Holiday Season, in Canada, it’s Christmas.
Photo: Kate Zaidova / Unsplash