A (True) Christmas Story
Around six o’clock Christmas Eve (yes, yesterday) I had ducked into the Metro Supermarket at College Park to buy some last-minute emergency rations, a bit of extra Pure cheese, a bit of extra Parlor ice-cream, that sort of thing. An extra packet of frozen Prawns, just in case I ran out. Paid the bill (Forty-plus dollars) and walked out headed home, minding my own business, when I spotted Carlton cards across the mall.
Well, it’s Christmas Time, right? And I thought “Why not buy a couple of Christmas Cards, one for my friend in Mississauga, and one for her Sister and Husband, also in Mississauga, where we will all arrive for supper this Christmas day Evening.
I hope you will agree that spending about five dollars for two cards for a slap-up Christmas Dinner is a good thing. Especially since I am invited to sleep over, which means there will probably be a breakfast the next morning too.
Into Carlton cards; two long racks of cards. Up and down I walk, elbowing shoppers out of my way, impatient to get away from the sections for “Mom”, “Dad”, “Sister”, “Rich Grandparent” and “Favourite Sex Partner” (I shouldn’t be at all surprised) heading for the block with Generic Christmas Cards.
Generic Christmas Cards: I mean an old stone church covered in snow with a Robin Red-Breasts perched on a sprig of Holly (with berries) in the foreground.
Or else your basic Green Fir Tree on a Red Background.
Or Children Caroling in the Snow, the night of Halloween Extortion of being long passed.
Nope. Nothing. Nada.
I retraced my steps, the old people having picked themselves up by now, and worked my way back along the aisles, slower, this time, making a better job of scanning and elbowing, although the elbowing was easier this time, most of the old people recognizing my approach and the fresh scowl on my face.
Nope. Nothing. Nada.
I head towards the cashier at the till with my now-customary query “Am I going insane, or “ do you not stock Generic Christmas Cards any more?
Oh yes, we have boxed sets.
It’s Christmas Eve and I need only two.
Here let me check.
And the nice young lady l locks the till, pockets the key, and we walk up and down the aisle until she gives in.
Sorry, we don’t stock Generic Christmas Cards.
I trudged home in gloom, recognizing that year by year the general population is being trained not-to-think.
No longer are we expected to buy a Generic Christmas Card and write within it our personal sentiments towards a personal friend. Or relative.
We are expected to consume pre-packaged sentiments.
And the more we are trained not to think, the less we think, let alone the less we think critically.
On the bright side, I was trained to think, and I still think.
Critically. That’s Critical.