Friday, January 07, 2005

Stock the coffers with our profits! Fa la la la la la la la la!

Here it is Epiphany already, and I'm still thinking about Yuletide and the vexations surrounding greetings of the season. Sometimes my mind moves slowly. But I have a proposal that will surmount the hurdle of religious/cultural specificity and get right to the heart of the matter.

First, I thought I would share with you a sentiment that I shared with an atheist friend of mine in a card I sent to him around Christmas of 1990:

Dear Xxxxx:
I would wish you a merry Christmas, but you're not Christian.
I would say Happy Hannukah, but you're not Jewish.
I would say I hope you had a restorative Ramadan, but you're not Muslim.
I would say Happy New Year, but the year is calculated from Jesus' birth and, as I mentioned,
you're not Christian.

I would say Happy Holidays, but of course a holiday is a "holy-day", and I'm pretty sure you don't
believe in that.

So...Happy Groundhog Day!

(You do believe in groundhogs, right?)

Thankfully, he thought it was a riot. (I was worried it would just sound cranky, and who needs that?)

Now for my proposal, offered more-or-less in the same spirit:
We have been getting into all sorts of hot water trying to figure out how we can greet people near the end of the year. Is Christmas too specific or oppressive? Is Happy Holidays too offensively bland? Does my African-American friend keep Kwanzaa or not? What does my atheist friend celebrate? There are some real questions here.

One of the grandest traditions of Christmas -- from the very beginning of the modern celebration in the nineteenth century -- is complaining about how commercial it has gotten. These days especially, though, this seems rather disingenuous. We speak openly (and often) of how important the fourth quarter is for retailers, many of whom apparently make a sizable chunk of their annual profit in the run-up to holiday celebrations. There are newspaper and radio reports (maybe TV, too, but I wouldn't know) immediately following the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush depicting sales as lagging or disappointing or not quite up to snuff -- oddly they never seem "generous" or "surprisingly good". News stories tell of stores having to run (gasp) pre-holiday sales to boost the bottom line. There is an ongoing public conversation that sees that time of year primarily in commercial terms. The complaint is not "Look how commercial Christmas has gotten!" but "How much more commercial can we make this thing?" We've ditched the commercial carping and come clear out on the other side.

Despite such stories being mostly confined to the business reports, I think we are all implicated in this to some extent. Think of it: our insurance, our retirement plans, our investments all ride on how much we spend, because they are largely involved in the stock market. And with the service and retail segments of the economy increasing in importance over segments such as heavy manufacturing, you'd better believe that we're on Dow Jones' Christmas card list. So spend!

So here's my humble suggestion: since in the public realm money and commercial pursuits are one of the few things that we can talk about and hold in common, I suggest that we just chuck any mention of "Christmas" or "Holidays" or "cultural celebrations" or what have you -- even Festivus can go. Instead, let's just greet each warmly, saying "Happy Q4!"

It has much to recommend it. For one, it is honest that the season really starts around the beginning of October. Also, it 'fesses up to how much the money means to us (think of movies: how did we measure a movie's value or success before we started reporting the amount of money it grossed over the weekend?). Maybe it will even encourage us to go out and do our patriotic duty and continue spending -- you wouldn't want them to win, would you? Plus, it's non-sectarian: your money is as green as mine!

So, I think I might be on to something. But let's sit on it for a while; we can roll it out next fall.

In the meantime, may you enjoy this blessed season of Q1, as we prepare for our annual day of atonement on April 15th.

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Blogger Caleb said...

I like it! (Is that the right thing to say? I really don't like it.)

Friday, January 07, 2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Thanks! I'll take it anyway it comes.
Happy Q1!

Friday, January 07, 2005 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

Hmmmm... feeling a tad snarky, are we?

Personally, while not a christian myself, I think of it as the "Christmas Season".

And anyone who goes out of their way to get upset about being wished a "Merry Christmas" -- at worst, an innocuous statement, at best, a wish for happiness and other good things directed at the "wishee" -- has more serious issues than that to worry about. I just ignore them.


Friday, January 07, 2005 5:03:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Wood said...

So what exactly is it that you have against forign currency? Everyone uses green currency? Hardly. In fact the Canadians have even abandoned the whole dull idea of monochromatic curency in favor of multicolored currency. I know it is bad form to attack someone directly, but my goodness, a direct attack on the value of our foreign brother's and sister's wallets could not go unanswered. I would think after such a lovely Q4 we would all be trying to come together for a peacful Q1!

Friday, January 07, 2005 7:29:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Young said...

Shame on you Jason. Your suggestion is highly offensive to me and those of us who start their fiscal year in July or on some other date. I just finished a prosperous 2005 Q2, and I am looking forward to further growth opportunities in 2005 Q3.

To demand that I follow your misguided and prejudicial quarterly schedule just reeks of elitism.

Friday, January 07, 2005 7:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

ROTFLOL!!! I love you guys!

Hobbit: Yep, surprise! It snarked up on you, didn't it?

Doug: Any country that issues currency in the form of "Loonies" and "Toonies" is perfectly alright in my book! I retract the "green" stipulation.

Pete: I'm afraid I must begin a new kulturkampf on behalf of all right-thinking people who see Oct-Dec. as Q4. It has been this way since the beginning -- we are a Q4 country, for gosh sakes. Our Puritan forebears left a country that employed shaky accounting techniques, for gosh sakes. Soldiers fought for the sacred right of proper accounting, i.e. calendar year accounting. I suppose you would have King George come right over here and tell you how to keep your book? Huh? Is that what you want? Well, not me, mister! Not by a long shot! You will have to pry my calendar year accounting book out of my cold, dead hands before I change from the hallowed ways of this great nation of ours!

Or maybe I'm wrong, whatever: it's all good.

A merry Q1 to all, and to all a good night!
(-: JF

Friday, January 07, 2005 11:34:00 PM  
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