Christmas in July

December 05, 1993

You say the commercialism of Christmas is driving you 'round the bend? Want to sail to some faraway spot where you won't be bombarded by TV ads for "Steve and Eydie's Yuletide Favorites"?

Well, this year you can do your driving in a $75,000 electric car, your sailing in a $150,000 Flarecraft from the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. Better yet, you can order through the Robb Report, another guide to exorbitantly priced stuff, a robotized version of yourself for a cool $200,000. The fake you can brave the malls and do all your shopping while the real you sits at home in the Barco-lounger, watching hockey on the tube and muttering, "Bah, humbug."

These hyper-expensive items really ram home the message that the hucksterism of the season has gotten way out of hand. The ostensible reason for the observance of Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus Christ, has for many years been obscured by a month-long festival of materialism that we count down daily. It is so entrenched that retail businesses rely on Christmas shopping for up to half of their annual profits. To grouse about the commercialism of it all, then, is to be seen as anti-business, anti-American -- unpatriotic!

So, a modest proposal: Continue the purely religious observance of Jesus' birth every December for those so inclined, but shift the exchanging of gifts to July 4. What better way to mark the founding of the world's greatest capitalist democracy than through the mercantile orgy we revel in each December? And because Independence Day is non-sectarian, people of all creeds could take part in the fun without the theological confusion that some non-Christians suffer at Christmas time.

Picture it. Swapping presents poolside as burgers sizzle on the barbecue. Fireworks shows that finish with a red, white and blue display of Santa Claus, clad in a tank top, riding his reindeer-powered sleigh through the starry summer sky. Kissing under tomato vines instead of mistletoe. Lemonade instead of egg nog. Not "Christmas"; "Giftmas"!

Sound tacky? Maybe. But it can't be any tackier than what we already do this time of year.

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