Phase One Of Holiday Story Arc Complete

  • Phase One: (No) Thanksgiving: traffic is terrible (dread holidays off to crummy start); stores are crowded (ailing retailers forced to lure shoppers with steep discounts). Corollary stories: obesity at all-time high; instead of feasting, fast instead. Message: holidays irritating, bad for you.
  • Phase Two: Blue Christmas: In spite of huge crowds, low prices, consumer confidence down, no one's actually buying, retailers "concerned." Man-on-street "unable to afford" Christmas this year. Corollary stories: suicides, children whose dads are in Iraq, local teen spray-paints schwastika on synagogue, lawsuits over creches in public square, thieves in Santa costumes. UPDATE: Mr. W. points out I forgot the Christmas tree fire stories. Message: Sure, you're happy; everyone else is suffering.
  • Phase Three: Bleak January: actual December retail sales figures released, sales reached record high umpteenth year in row. Suicide, murder rates down, donations to charities way up. Cede one graf in B section, 30 secs end of broadcast. Message: oh, that. Ho-hum. Corollary stories: credit card debt.