One thing that should be banned - stores playing Christmas music after Christmas. I don't understand how it makes sense. Who wants to listen to a soulful rendition of "Silent Night" drift lazily from a terrible stereo system while elbowing a blonde hussy out of the way for a cashmere cardigan? (JESSICA -1, BLONDE HUSSY-0: sorry, sugar, maybe next time). Or the uplifting twangs of a country music banjo introducing Garth Brook's version of "Santa Clause is Coming To Town" while wrestling a stick in a mini-skirt and black leggings over a Michael Kors coat at 50% off? (JESSICA - 2, STICK IN MINI-SKIRT- 0: Nice try, but you'll probably get it in eight months anyway, since there seems to be a delay jumping on fad-wagons for you). To set a guideline, I believe that songs with any mention of Christmas, or Santa, or baby Jesus should be stricken from the radio stations. Seriously. I'm sorry, Santa Clause already came to town, made his rounds, and is now nesting peacefully back at the North Pole. He won't be back for about 360 days. And you may as well stop dreaming of a white Christmas, because you'll be dreaming for a while. It's boxing week, it's the time where self-control takes a vacation and people can go back to being money-grubbing Grinches, at least for a few days. Presents you pretended you liked can sit lonelily back in the store shelves, and people you don't really care for but obligatorily still keep in contact with can receive old boxes of Christmas Lindt truffles bought for mere pennies. And as for you, it's a time for over-self-indulgence, hair-pulling for discount goods, and gratuitous amounts of complaining over long lines. And you know what? Maybe you don't want Santa seeing this selfishly bad behaviour. It's time to leave Christmas out of it.
With that said, I've never been a big boxing day shopper, but now I can kind of see why. There's something about being crammed in a messy and unorganized department store with hundreds of bargain-hungry tourists, picking through the season's rejected clothes just to score a deal. Don't get me wrong - I love sales. I will NEVER buy a designer piece for full retail price. I do hold firm to the philosophy, "It's not how much you spend, it's how much you save." It's a game for me, sale-hunting. But Boxing day turns everyone into a green-eyed monster, looking around suspiciously in case anyone else is walking on their turf, hiding items that they want time to think about. It's not a game anymore, it's just an all-consuming force that sucks the goodness and energy out of anyone who steps into its fire.
And my last point.
I no longer take pictures of New York. This is the sixth consecutive year of my family trips there, and I find that I always take pictures of the same things: the skating rink of Central Park, some shot of the Empire State Building, a crowded 5th Avenue, and Time Square at night. And I'm beginning to appreciate all those things way less. For example, Time Square. I remember being 13, witnessing the hustle and bustle under the night sky lit by city lights and flashing signs. Now everything just irritates me, the rude American tourists (yeah, I REALLY hate tourists), people who don't know how to take off their backpacks in a crowded space and end up knocking you out when they whip around to take more pictures, "Look, maw, look at that Coke ad! It moves!" At some point, something clicked in my head, and everywhere I turned, all I could think was, this is just electricity. Time Square is the largest testament to human consumption and consumerism in the world. The gods of Coca Cola and GAP and Target sit on their brightly lit thrones while the ribbon with updates on the New York Stock Exchange wrap around Morgan Stanley, and people come from all over the world gather and kneel. Intersecting Time Square is Broadway, which is no longer the golden celebration of art and culture anymore, it's now tacky family restaurants, Sbarro, and more massive corporate stores just trying to compete with each other through their bright lights. It's really kind of disgusting, isn't it?
However, I did find some beautiful places in the city. I wandered through the most empty trails in Central Park, back roads in the downtown core, sat in coffee shops and people-watched, ate the world's greatest shrimp scampi in Hell's Kitchen, found tiny cramped bookstores where every patron knew each other, and had in-depth conversations with cab drivers about Chinese politics. This was my first year exploring on my own, which gave me a break from the regular visits to museums, shopping kingdoms, jaunts through SoHo, and horrible Italian restaurants in Little Italy. Highly recommended, if you're not a fan of slow-walking couples with large shopping bags, or people in North Face jackets craning their necks at every step to check out the buildings. And really, highly recommended in any city, including Toronto and wherever you happen to live.
Anyway. That's my update, what I've been doing lately. To close:
TOP FIVE HOLIDAY SONGS PERMISSIBLE FOR BOXING DAY USAGE:
5) Baby It's Cold Outside
4) Fairytale of New York
3) Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
2) Winter Wonderland
1) That Was The Worst Christmas Ever
5 years ago