CARLTON FLETCHER: I'm happy Christmas is over ... and this is why

OPINION: Christmas gouging season is over, but don't get too comfortable

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Back to life, back to reality.

Soul II Soul

It’s a fact: Christmas in America has become more and more about the presents than it is the presence, and retailers, smelling commerce, roll out their season decorations and advertising earlier each year. In fact, I won’t be surprised when fake Santas, dressed in cargo shorts, sandals and their jingle bell hats — their ample bellies red from sunburn — are called on to shoot off the July 4th fireworks.

But if you’ve got young folks in your family, Christmas is still a magical time. Maybe it takes a holiday filled with the promise of free gifts to bring some families together, but at least they get together.

And while Christmas 2013 was a wonderful time for me personally — a new baby in the clan, family gatherings, some of the best food ever cooked, new music and other cool gifts — I’m actually glad all the hoopla is over and we can get settled back into real life.

Here, then and with a little bit of “Bah, humbug!” thrown into the mix, the top 11 reasons I’m glad Christmas is over:

  1. No more insipid commercials in which advertisers take Christmas songs and change them to shopping jingles. It’s bad enough that AC/DC’s “Back in Black” is now considered a “Christmas song” because of a television/radio ad campaign, but hearing “Joy to the World” transformed into “Come buy my stuff, the price is cheap; Let shoppers spend their bucks” somehow saps a little bit of my holiday spirit.

  2. No more crazy mall traffic rushes by people who are already some of the worst drivers alive the other 11 months of the year. Put that same group of drivers behind the wheel with a “BOGO” at stake, and you’re talking demolition derby.

  3. No more waiting for two-plus hours to ride the Santa Express at Chehaw. (I will proclaim, though, that the night ride on the train is well worth the wait. Suggestion: Maybe add a second train or, if that’s cost prohibitive, sell tickets in advance with designated ride times. Again, though, the wait is worth it and one of the season’s best local attractions.)

  4. No more redundant, inescapable Christmas songs. I can use a breather on all but a few: Greg Lake’s “Father Christmas,” the Eagles’ “Please Come for Christmas” and “rapper” Krispy Kreme’s (with Money-Maker Mike) Christmas Wish List rap.

  5. Unfriendly and/or sick clerks can go back home to Grinchland. (The trip couldn’t come soon enough for a young lady who waited on customers at one of the mall outlets. This clerk snuffled snot, wiped her nose on a well-used Kleenex and sneezed into her hand about 10 times while I was waiting to be checked out. It was great getting a handful of germ-laden change from her.)

  6. Now you have another whole year before you’re reminded of the last time the economy was good enough for you to get a bonus or a raise.

  7. No more fake reindeer antlers and red noses on vehicles. It was cute the first time you saw it … not so much the next 147.

  8. No more Christmas album releases by residents of the Island of Misfit Country Singers Who Haven’t Had a Hit in 14 Years or the odd Slash/Joey Fatone mash-up. Let’s let Manheim Steamroller and the Trans Siberian Orchestra do Christmas music and the rest just get real jobs. (We will, however, accept more Krispy Kreme.)

  9. All those well-planned one-of-a-kind items you bought for Aunt Susie and the hot chick in the corner desk who returned it and bought a Hunks of Gangsta Rap calendar and a Wing Street 35-pack at Pizza Hut with your money will now go down in price by half or more, leaving you to vow you’ll do your shopping early next year … even though you know you won’t.

  10. Gas prices will go back down. Now that distributors got in their Thanksgiving gouge and their Christmas gouge, miraculously, the price will shrink a bit until they do their King Day gouge and Valentine’s Day gouge and Groundhog Day gouge and Arbor Day gouge …

  11. You now have 10 1/2 months to wait before you get the pointless “If a store wishes me a ‘happy holiday’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas,’ I’m taking my business elsewhere” squawks. Hint: If that’s a deal-breaker for you, all but the most desperate of retail outlets are more than glad to see you shop somewhere else. Oh, and “holidays” implies “holy days,” and, yes, there are people of other religions who have holy days this time of year. If you can’t give them the same courtesy of respecting their customs and tenets, maybe you need to check the ground rules of your religion again.