Xmas is all about spending. Forget Baby Jesus in his cold manger bed, or those overworked sweatshop elves in the North Pole. When all is said and done, Xmas in America is about one thing and one thing only: Cold hard dollars and cents, the kind that people shell out to show someone how much they love them or to make themselves feel as if they are getting “in the holiday spirit.”
Last year, Americans spent an average of $910 on gifts, which was down from $1,004 in 2004. This year, surveys show that shoppers plan to spend about $859 on presents, though that number could turn out to be much higher when the season is over and the analysts pull out their calculators to prove that our economy is healthy and wealthy but certainly not wise.
Americans will probably cough up $8 million again on holiday decorations (everything from designer tree trimmers to Santa pins with the blinking red light noses), as they did in previous years. Online sales are predicted to be in the area of $33 billion, proving that the internet is not just for nerds.
Mother nature will contribute to the festivities, though without much say in the matter. Almost 29 million of her trees were cut down and sold last year, not to mention discarded on sidewalks, so that families could gather around them to collect their loot. China will no doubt gross somewhere around $450 million from the sale of artificial trees, as it’s done in the past. An additional $2.2 billion will be racked up in the sale of toys that haven’t been recalled yet.
Lucky middle-class American kids will make out like bandits, as they usually do: Typically, they receive about 70 new toys every year, most of them at Xmas. Not to be overlooked, eight out of 10 dogs and six out of 10 cats will receive treats from owners who feel their special furry friends shouldn’t be given the short end of the stick at this special spending time of the year.
About $220 million in sales will make those familiar red-flowered poinsettias the most popular flower purchased. An estimated $1.8 billion will go to the candy industry so that Americans can satisfy their collective sweet tooth.
At the end of the day, when the poinsettias are wilting on the dining room table and many of the stuffed dinner guests are nodding off from the L-tryptophan in the turkey, Americans will throw away 14% of their holiday food. Generally, Americans toss out 28 billion pounds of food each and every year, even as one in nine families go every day without any guarantee of a meal.
Over five million tons of Xmas garbage (including wrapping paper, ribbon, tinsel, greeting cards, broken toys, etc.) will be generated just in the U.S. alone. Britain will contribute another 3 million tons. An estimated 885,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 4,800 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 2,800 tons of nitrogen oxide will be disseminated into our air to produce the extra electricity to light up all of those houses, shop windows and Xmas trees.
Xmas: the world’s trashiest holiday.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a radical Italian queer atheist performer and writer with a website: www.avicollimecca.com