Weekend essay: The Christmas rush

Weekend essay: The Christmas rush

It’s almost too much to bear, this nearly daily barrage of Christmas catalogues. Note use of the qualifying word “almost.”


The pre-Halloween onslaught easily averaged three a day. The volume has only increased since then. From hams to jewelry and toys (for kids little and large), from model trains to chocolates, fruits and nuts, and from newly discovered old stuff sold as new to new stuff made to mimic the old-fashioned, this Christmas catalogue horn of plenty borders on the horn of too much.


“Enough!” some of us might shout in disgust, exposed for the mock that it is as we stop on, oh, page 62 of a certain catalogue to admire the very same porcelain candle-hugging angels that, original intent long forgotten, have graced O Tannenbaum for decades.


“No more!” we intone, our affectatious disapproval rendered silly as we pause on, say, page 53 of another catalogue to admire “The Personalized Henry VII British Shilling Tankard,” an ode to the Royal Navy in the “Age of Sail.”


“Well, this is simply too much!” we roll our eyes at the cartoon image of Mrs. Claus on the cover of another catalogue. She is feigning shock at viewing the rising shirt and falling pants of Santa, placing a package under the tree. His implied posterior exposure is a tease for “long tail” shirts designed to eliminate manly “mechanics” malfunctions. “That’s a pretty good idea,” we catch ourselves muttering.


Then we’re quickly back to dissing it all, now not so much for the volume of the Christmas “stuff” being offered too many weeks in advance of Thanksgiving — but because we couldn’t possibly have enough time to properly peruse the packed horn of treasures placed before us.


All that said, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could resist the sweet prize of prizes to be found on page 60 of yet another HalloThanksMas catalogue.


It’s “The Stirling Engine Vortex, an “external combustion engine” made of machine-tooled aluminum that moves about marbles from here to there and back again.


At $699.95, a “steal” it is not. But it sure does whet the appetite for the next gift idea, sensible or nonsensical, that’s sure to grace the next early Christmas catalogue(s) sure to come any day now.


Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).