Henry: The hectic holiday conduct

Posted on December 07, 2011 in Henry's Head, Perspectives
By Andrew Henry

The holiday season is in full swing, and with it comes a seasonal tradition as prominent as eggnog and dad’s incessant snoring. I’m talking about holiday advertising.

The holiday season brings about millions of smiles each year, but while the classy advertising bolsters holiday joy, it’s often the looniest ads that are the most memorable (Lookin’ at you, auto-tuned snow-dancing K-Mart commercial). The only reason these ads are tolerable is because the holidays are a time of easiness and relaxation, a time when we shrug off the things that normally annoy us more.

If you’ve been in Rite Aid or any convenience store chain, you started seeing holiday advertising in October, but the true seasonal advertising started just this month. By “true,” I mean the outrageous commercials that seep into daily television programming. These commercials are the epitome of crazy. Almost all of the big store chains, such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Sears, etc., participate in this trend, and the ads get sillier and sillier with each passing year.

Have you ever wanted to see dancing little people dressed in elf costumes singing the hallelujah chorus in 8-part harmony? Well now you can, thanks to the holiday season.

Many holiday shoppers are fairly bonkers in attitude, and the commercials reflect those attitudes. One commercial that reflects said craziness is an ad for Payless Shoes in which a woman in her mid-20s runs in slow-motion in a snowstorm while snowballs being are thrown at her in the middle of the road. What is this? Snowball fight meets The Matrix? When I first saw the commercial, the first thing that popped into my head sure wasn’t “this is definitely a shoe commercial.”

The factor that has me coming back to that commercial, though, is something that not only affects seasonal commercials, but many regular commercials as well: the whiney, droning, high-pitched singing voice. Cell phone commercials use them a lot. WHY is this a trend? If I want a Droid 7 or whatever number they’re on, I don’t want to think of a whiny off-pitch singing voice when I hear about the phone. It’s awful. But if the whiney voice doesn’t blow out your eardrum, you run the risk of getting caught in the holiday advertising riots

During the holiday season, millions tune into various TV stations to watch their favorite programs, and whenever a deal comes up in a commercial, people flock to the stores like, well, there’s no real comparison because people flocking to stores during the holidays is one of the zaniest things I’ve ever seen. I was one of the shoppers at Black Friday in Bangor, and it was terrifying. We went to Macy’s first and got there at 11 p.m. We stood in front of the doors 15 minutes before midnight, and there weren’t a whole lot of people standing because of the cold. But the minute the doors opened, literally dozens of people flew out of their cars and power-walked to the store. In a matter of seconds, we were in the middle of a people blob. This should be a warfare tactic.

But for all of the pitfalls of the holiday season, the benefits far outweigh them. Viewers get irritated at these commercials but only until It’s a Wonderful Life comes back on TV and the commercials are over. We hate crowded shopping centers, until we find the deal on the one present that will make the recipient’s holiday magical. As corny as it sounds, this time of the year is really is unlike any other season. There’s a certain unspoken joy, the X-factor of the holiday season that people just enjoy. Helping people with shopping bags are tasks we find fun in doing, because we know those bags may have gifts inside them that are going to someone’s grandkids. The grandparents appreciate it, which makes wrapping gifts so much more enjoyable because that person didn’t have to struggle carrying shopping bags across the snowy parking lot.

I had a $5 bill in my wallet to buy some candy at Wal-Mart the other day, and as I walked up to the door, I saw the Salvation Army stand outside. Instead of getting candy, I put the $5 bill into the collection jar and used the change in my pocket to buy a coffee for the person ringing the bell. In a season of hectic shopping and finals for school, it’s the little things that matter. Pay it forward, holiday lovers.