Lauren and I went to Walgreen’s the other day.
We do this on days where Tabitha has her after-school violin practice, since there’s not really enough time to go home or do much of anything productive in the tiny little slice of the day that exists between picking up Lauren at Not Bad President Elementary and picking up Tabitha at Mighty Clever Guy Middle School, even when you add in the half hour or so that the violin group takes up. And Walgreens has snacks.
We like snacks.
It is cold here in Wisconsin again, the sort of weather we normally get in November. That’s close enough to being on target that we’ll take it. It’s also cold enough that hanging out by MCGMS and tossing our superball against the asphalt to see how high it bounces is a bit more daunting than it was a couple of weeks ago. So after we picked out our snacks (and one for Tabitha), Lauren and I wandered around a bit looking at all the various items that are for sale.
Christmas is coming. Did you know that? It is! Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret. That’s why the retail establishments of America are working so hard to have their stores covered in Christmas kitsch year-round, so you’ll never really know when the holiday is actually drawing nearer and you’ll just buy stuff all the time. It’s a sure-fire recession-killing strategy, if you ask me. A nation dumb enough to buy pre-cooked bacon strips would surely fall for a trick like this.
So we looked at the Christmas merchandise. It was sparkly.
And there, prominently displayed on one of the end caps, was Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Or, rather, roughly a dozen copies of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, attractively packaged and individually branded with the appropriate logos and trademark symbols.
Does irony even exist in America anymore?
I’ve always loved the Charlie Brown Christmas special. It’s much quieter than most of the holiday-themed cartoons that haunt the airwaves these days, and for all the goofy humor in it there is a deep streak of introspection and sadness underneath. And there is the tree, the pathetic little sprig that Charlie Brown brings home instead of the snazzy aluminum monstrosities so popular then, the last bit of homely warmth in a coldly commercial world.
You can buy them now. Pre-packaged.
I’m not at all sure this represents progress.