Monday, December 13, 2010

Bah! Humbug!

"On the first day of Christmas,
The advertising's there, with
Newspaper ads, billboards too,
Business Christmas cards,
And commercials on a pear tree."

Just a sample of Stan Freberg's glorious satire of the Christmas Commercial Season from his inspired "Green Christmas" song of 1958..a song some radio stations refused to play, and some advertisers refused to pay if their spots ran within five minutes of the song's broadcast.

(In another life, working as both radio dj and newsman, I made sure I played the song on the station where I worked.)

When I came to WKYT and did commentaries for them, I tracked how early Christmas decorations appeared in Lexington stores. One year it was on Sept 10th.

Freberg's satire is set in a fictional advertising agency, headed by a certain Mr. Scrooge, who urges all his clients to take advantage of the season. In a dated reference, he applauds a client's "magazine ads showing cartons of your cigarettes peeking out of the top of Santa's sack." This year we've gone that one better an eager aide responds: "we have him smoking one."

Soon a chorus breaks in:

"Deck the halls with advertising,
Tis the time for merchandising,
Profit never needs a reason,
Get the money, it's the season."

And a little later:

"We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And please buy our beer."

(By the way, am I the only one who thinks it incongruous, to put it mildly, that there are Salvation Army kettles outside liquor stores?)

When one small client objects...guy named Bob Cratchet..urging the rest to "remember..whose birthday we're celebrating", Scrooge replies.."Don't get me wrong. The story of Christmas, in it's simplicity, is a good's just that we know a good thing when we see it."

If you truly want to see a "good thing", buy the Courier-Journal on December 24th. For years that paper has run Hugh Haynie's award winning cartoon about the true meaning of this season. I hope the paper won't let me down this year; we need his approach more than ever, especially when my Sunday paper contained an ad for one of the "hot" gifts for 8 year olds, at a mere $130.

Television deserves special mention for driving parents batty, for causing repeated gift requests from small fry for the latest "hot" toy, but let it be noted, as a recent Washington Post story put also repeats "A Charlie Brown Christmas", whose corporate sponsors never balked at including Biblical passages. The story quotes producers that "Linus' reading from the Book of Luke...(is) ..the most magical two minutes in all of tv animation."

I just may be slightly biased. Including great aunts and cousins, four members of my family were born on December 25..including myself.

On their behalf, and my own..and especially His, may I wish you the true Joy of this Christmas season, which does not come wrapped in colored paper and ribbons, but in the heart.

I'm just sayin'....

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