(…are the caribou herds of holiday shoppers…flowing stronger this year?)

It’s that time of year again.

We turkeys, having been well stuffed from our Thanksgiving feeding excesses, are now ready to surge out to every shopping mall and store we can think of to scramble for whatever gift deals we can glom on to….shopping till we drop…as a way of burning off those caloric excesses under our belts.

Meanwhile, mall and shopkeepers happily dream of profit plums filling their coffers, hoping that this year’s Black Friday will, indeed, be an uptick for an otherwise blah economy. The big question for them now being…are the caribou herds of holiday shoppers…flowing stronger this year?

From a casual view of the scene it would seems so, at least in some parts of the country perhaps more than in others. Still, natural disasters like hurricane Sandy aside, less than hopeful results from this past election cycle (even though all our politicos now seem to be making nice with each other, and some effort to face our fiscal realities), or distant tensions and warfare on distant shores, don’t seem to put a damper on a positive, if not a fully optimistic outlook… on our collective mood at this time of year.

All of which seems to show that our society is becoming ever more hedonistic and materialistic in its ways, as secularism diminishes the religious roots of this holiday season. Iconic Christmas trees, especially those for display in public places, appear headed for the world of plastic replication (perhaps because a Chinese plastic simulation import is cheaper than a real live Douglas fir, and environmentally more politically correct besides), and public displays of manger scenes, the genesis of that tradition, more and more find themselves banned as not commensurate with our proclaimed “multiculturalism”.

But symbolism is important, especially for a dynamic cultural matrix such as ours. So, while many of this holiday season’s symbols…Santa Claus, carolers, tree lights, gift-giving, fireplace stockings, eggnog and fruitcake, along with somewhat time-worn songs about it all…no matter how diluted or even distorted they may be…remain doggedly planted in it.

Well, there may come a time when this stream of cultural evolution will have flowed so far onward…that this holiday season will have faded into some vaguely recalled ancient observance called – Christmas time – …with only Black Friday…and all those caribou herds of holiday shoppers…still there…to remind us of what once was.