Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 12/1/2008 [Archive]

Christmas as a Contact Sport

Christmas as a Contact Sport

By Martha Randolph Carr

Black Friday may have a new definition. In a surprising and appalling event over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, all of us got to see just how entrenched the idea of American entitlement has become. A temporary holiday Wal-Mart clerk, 34 year old Jdimytai Damour of Queens was not only trampled to death but ignored by the hordes of bargain hunters who first fatally injured and then stepped over his crushed body to get to the cheap, flat screen TVs.

Economists have been saying lately that TV sales may be a good indication of how well the retail merchants will do this holiday season, so good news in that area. However, bad news for how well we're adjusting to the new economic climate or behaving as decent human beings.

It's unfortunate that no one got the opportunity to interview anyone in the mob to find out what it was about the sales that had them whipped into a frenzy. Perhaps they were parents who couldn't face disappointed offspring on Christmas morning or they were huge football fans who saw a chance to have a really big Super Bowl party this year.

Those reasons apparently also now justify knocking down the pregnant coworker who struggled to get to Damour and then dash past her as well, of course. A bargain doesn't last long these days after all. It was a nice touch that as rescue workers were helping out the injured Wal-Mart clerks, shoppers were complaining to Nassau County police about having to exit the store. After all, they had waited on line for hours and might not get another shot at cheap toys. So what if it's also a crime scene.

Makes you wonder if anyone bargained with the cops to stay away from that section in exchange for a few more shopping minutes.

It's tempting at this point to wonder if we're so used to buying way above our means and our needs that we've forgotten anything about what really matters. If the job market continues to tighten and there comes a point when we have to leave our climate-controlled boxes just what kind of people will emerge?

Perhaps we're all just one leaner Christmas away from a Mad Max scenario. I'm betting that isn't the case, which is a good thing because I don't live all that far away from that particular Wal-Mart.

However, faced with so much dire news and the odds that we're only in the middle of what may turn out to be another depression era, it's not enough to sit passively back anymore and hope for better behavior.

Time to organize on a local level. I've been beating this drum for a little while but with good reason. The economic problems are felt on a personal level and the best solutions will come from community connections. Gather up neighbors and friends in your living room, not just to brainstorm on micro-loans for local businesses or kids trying to stay in college but also to share talents. Resurrect the idea of the Victorian parlor and play games or instruments and read from that play in your desk drawer. Sure, some of it will be bad but some will also surprise and all of it will bring everyone closer together.

Send your best ideas to me at Martha@caglecartoons.com and I'll share them right here. Be sure to include how to get along without so much stuff. Apparently, there are quite a few shoppers on Long Island who could use that particular advice.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Martha's Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.



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