Boxing Day is that most sacred of days — that special day that comes but once a year. That exciting day so many people wait impatiently for all year with baited breath and joy in their hearts and hands on their wallets. The day where the uplifting magical Christmas spirit goes swirling unceremoniously down the toilet.
Boxing Day. What a concept. Contrary to the popular notion that the day after Christmas has something to do with a pugilistic sporting event, this yearly merchandise-schlepping madness was actually named after the rarely-mentioned Saint Greed, the Patron Saint of Plasma Televisions.
Some historians say that Boxing Day was so named when a tradition of placing coins in boxes for the poor developed in the days after Christmas — which is pretty much the polar opposite of what it is today.
We do know that it originated in England in the Middle Ages, about the time of the invention of Big Box electronic stores.
In fact, the Boxing Day holiday in its modern form is really only observed, or as I like to say besmirched by Canadians and other British Empire colonies like Australia. Surprisingly, our massively commercial neighbours to the south haven’t really caught on yet.
It’s a true Christmas miracle that the U.S. retail giants haven’t clued in to the Day-After-Christmas spending frenzy and created a money monster out of a nice family day like they did with, say, Thanksgiving, or even Halloween.
But many Canadian Boxers celebrate their Christmas by getting up at 4 a.m. on Boxing Day, climbing into a frozen ice cube of a vehicle to plow their way through the quiet streets at 80 km/h, fishtailing into the parking lot of the nearest store that is covered with Boxing Day Sale signs. Many Boxers like to then form a line, camping out in the cheery darkness, bolstered by thermoses of strong liquids and visions of cheap big-screen TVs and DVD players dancing in their heads.
After several hours, several dozens — if not hundreds — of like-minded deal-seekers have joined in the frozen cue, basking in the age-old festive tradition of trying saving a buck.
When dawn breaks on the big day and the much-anticipated moment arrives, several young store employees — the ones who either drew the short straw, or are working solely on commission — the young terrified clerks throw open the doors and…. And nothing happens on account of the lineup is a solid mass of frigidity, like a human ice sculpture.
But after the helpful employees get out the blow torches and begin unthawing the desperate deal-seeking shoppers the madness begins.
The stores are stormed by bedlam-inducing bargain seekers, the aisles suddenly jammed with crazy people sporting glazed eyes and flailing elbows — laser-guided toward the 40 to 50 to 60 per cent off signs plastered on the ‘big-ticket’ items that are 40 to 50 to 60 percent overpriced in the first place.
Most Boxing Day buyers know exactly what they are going for, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it, even if it means being a bit “impolite” by knocking a competing shopper unconscious, or perhaps losing a limb while fighting for that $50 camcorder.
After all, isn’t goal-setting, sacrifice, dedication and bodily harm what Christmas is all about?
Someone once said: “Christmastime is not a time or a season, but a state of mind.” Unfortunately based on the behaviour of some people every year, Boxing Day has become not time or a season, but a loss of the mind.”
But each to their own I always say. If people want to celebrate Christmas by staying up all night and fighting a seething mob of crazed shoppers all in the name of acquiring more stuff, then that’s OK for them.
But what do I know — I’m at home on Boxing Day, sleeping in. Dreaming of someday owning a big-screen plasma TV.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer and filmmaker whose column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate.