Last night found my husband and I eating food from McDonald’s after his bell choir rehearsal. I am not a fan of food from McDonald’s, but, I will occasionally be convinced to make do with it if nothing else is available.
I suspect I suffer from too much exposure. My family went to McDonald's every Saturday for lunch for years. Add to that my eye opening experiences working for McDonald’s and it’s understandable that my view of the Golden Arches isn't exactly rosy.
My husband, on the other hand, has happy childhood memories of McDonald’s. He was trying to explain the mystique of the colors and the lights and even the flavor of the pickles to a young person growing up in Northern Ireland. (American exoticism, perhaps?) He remembered how exciting it was to go to London because there were two McDonald’s there.
Just imagine. Two whole McDonald’s.
It occurred to me that part of what made it appealing to him was its rarity. Partaking of McDonald’s was a special occasion. Here in the United States the ubiquity of McDonald’s is almost overwhelming.
Is that an American thing? If having a McDonald’s in your town meets with success, well, let's have more. Five, ten, twenty…a sit-down, a drive-through, and one at the mall, too. The theory seems to be that success means replicating at an alarming pace.
Now we arrive at the point of all this: Santa Claus. (Cool points will be awarded to anyone who saw this plot twist coming.)
Columbia/HoCo has exploded with occasions to see Santa. My social media feed is awash with all things red, white, and furry. This is not a rant about how Santa cheapens the Christian message of Christmas. It’s really very simple: too many Santas.
Does the proliferation of Santa events take on the same frenzied onward march of McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin, and so on? At what point does a magical holiday moment - - that we hope will feel magical to a child - - feel more like an annual invasion?
Is it an American trait to be inclined to overdo things? Have we completely killed the appreciation of something as a special occasion?
If one Santa in your town parade meets with success, well, let’s have more. Five, ten, twenty…a sit-down breakfast with Santa, a drive-through Santa chat, and Santa at the Mall with prepaid picture packages, too.
It has certainly passed the tipping point for me. I recognized a feeling of growing anxiety when I noticed signs sprouting up on street corners. “Santa is coming to your neighborhood!” Part of me wanted to go home, lock the doors and pull down the shades.
I appreciate arguments for access. Seeing Santa shouldn’t be only for the rich kids. But, honestly, haven’t we expanded this Santa thing beyond all reason?
If it is an American thing to overdo things, I wish we applied that energy to basic needs like food, health care, paid sick leave, decent housing and working conditions. You can put those on every corner and in every mall and I promise I won’t complain.
Why, you’d be more popular than Santa.
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