This is the story of a man named Ebuyneezer Scrooge. Like many Americans, Ebuyneezer and his family have been hard at work getting in the Christmas/Holiday spirit: putting up the tree and decorations, sending out holiday cards, wishing everyone they meet a rousing Happy Holidays, trying to spend some time giving back to their community and buying gifts for family and friends.
It’s the last part that has been a little stressful on Ebuyneezer and his family. Since Black Friday, Ebuyneezer and his family have spent most weekends at the mall, the Dollar Tree and shopping on The Internet — The Source Of All Gifts. He was so tired after a day of shopping recently, that Ebuyneezer sat down in his favorite chair, flipped on the television with every intention of catching up on the current season of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Instead, he fell into a fast, deep sleep filled with a strange dream.
In his dream, Ebuyneezer was visited by three ghosts: The Ghost of Holiday Shoppers Past, The Ghost of Holiday Shoppers Present, and The Ghost of Holiday Shoppers Future.
The first ghost, The Ghost of Holiday Shoppers Past, met him in his dream and carried him off to a far-off and distant past (or 1948). The ghost showed him the downtown of the small town where Ebuyneezer spent his childhood. Lights decorated the streets and window signs of every store welcomed the holiday shoppers and wished them a Very, Merry Christmas. The Ghost showed Ebuyneezer a simpler time when many Christmas gifts were made by hand instead of purchased and the Kardashians were just a small family of sheep herders from Armenia.
Ebuyneezer had the cockles of his heart warmed by the sight of young families enjoying the holiday season. There were young boys chasing each other with frozen balls of snow. The little girls dreamed of dolls in shop windows and imagining having little children of their own. Mommies tended to the babies and daddies gathered with friends to share a laugh and perhaps warm their own hearts’ cockles with a quick slug from Uncle Marvin’s tiny silver flask.
“It was such a simple and joyous time,” Ebuyneezer said in the direction of The Ghost.
“Yes it was,” The Ghost replied.
“What are cockles?” Ebuyneezer asked.
“I have no idea,” The Ghost admitted sadly.
In a flash, Ebuyneezer was back in his favorite chair when, suddenly, he was met by The Ghost of Holiday Shoppers Present. The Ghost whisked him away to the same mall where Ebuyneezer had spent approximately 108 hours in recent days. He watched as a little girl was being dragged out of a store by her mother.
“That’s why I hate shopping,” the little girl said. “We have to go into so many stores.”
“She probably will put off making the potatoes until tomorrow,” the mother answered to some invisible being on the other end of a cell phone.
Ebuyneezer was happy because he had most of his shopping done. But he also experienced a twinge of sadness at those who still had bargains to find and lists to complete.
“Why do we do this to ourselves?” Ebuyneezer asked The Ghost of Holiday Shoppers Present.
“I doubt very seriously he had a birdie on the 13th,” The Ghost said to the invisible ghost on the other end of his cell phone.
Ebuyneezer was whisked away again. This time instead of returning to his home, he was met immediately by the third ghost, The Ghost of Shoppers Future.
“Sorry,” The Ghost of Shoppers Future said, “no time for napping. It’s 2112.”
Ebuyneezer went to a village he didn’t recognize full of massage therapy centers, doctor’s offices, hospitals, pharmacies and little gated-communities filled with streets named for trees with no actual trees in sight. Instead of seeing a familiar shopping season, Ebuyneezer gazed at a scene so foreign.
“Why is it so hot?” Ebuyneezer said.
“This is Hell,” The Ghost of Shoppers Future said.
Ebuyneezer was shocked and gasped aloud.
“I’m just kidding,” The Ghost said. “Hell was actually outsourced several years ago. And Christmas in the future actually starts right after Mother’s Day. It’s the middle of June.”
“So, people have half a year to stress about Christmas?” Ebuyneezer asked.
“Of course not,” The Ghost reassured him. “Christmas shopping was also outsourced. Nobody does their own shopping any more.”
“Why does everyone looked so sad then?” Ebuyneezer asked.
“Because,” The Ghosts said, “Joy and happiness have also been outsourced. Everything is outsourced.”
Then The Ghosts of Shoppers Future unleashed a sinister laugh. HahahahaHAHAHAHAHA.
Ebuyneezer jerked awake just as the final credits rolled on The Kardashians.
“Is everything okay, honey?” his wife asked.
“I just had the strangest dream,” he responded. Ebuyneezer wiped the drool from his chin, grabbed the remote, and changed the channel. “What time does ‘Finding Bigfoot’ come on?” he asked, then warmed his cockles with a quick nip from his flask.