Thanksgiving didn’t go well for me this year. I’d forgotten to buy marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole I was making on that day, so I ventured out to buy some.
When I got to WalMart, there were more people than I expected to find out shopping on a holiday. I’ve since learned that Thanksgiving is being redefined as yet another one of those orgies of consumerism we now celebrate several times a year. People had been camping out in front of WalMart for days before Turkey Day, and they’d gotten a little testy toward competing shoppers.
As I drew near the entrance, I saw hundreds of bargain hunters milling around, and I heard the unexpected sounds of people cursing. One of the elderly WalMart greeters had been knocked to the ground, but such was his loyalty to the company that he persisted in repeating “welcome to WalMart” through bloodied lips. To their credit, most of the shoppers made a special effort to step over the old guy, but with all the pushing and shoving, it was inevitable that some of them would step on him.
“What’s going on?” I shouted over the screams, and a wild-eyed lady next to me said, “big, big sale,” as she elbowed me in the stomach and pressed forward.
I doubled over, the wind knocked out of me, and I thought right then that maybe I didn’t need marshmallows after all, and decided to head back to the car, but I was carried along by the surge toward the displays of bargain-priced goods. I saw a woman wearing a festively knitted Christmas sweater who had grabbed another shopper by the hair to pull her away from the last remaining copy of Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, which had been steeply discounted in celebration of the birth of that book’s main character.
The sound of “Jingle Bells” on the store’s intercom system was interrupted by a voice directing shoppers to a hot deal over in the guns and ammo department, and I was swept by the crowd to a display of Christmas specials on semi-automatic rifles. I saw a guy wearing one of those red felt Santa hats administering a karate chop to an overweight woman who was clutching the last box of .45 automatic ammo being sold at 50% off. As she hit the floor, she lashed back with a well-placed kick to her assailant’s groin.
One of the Wal-Mart “Associates” scurried over to break up the fight, but he was brought down by a customer who hit him over the head with a boxed Nativity set, made in China, featuring a baby Jesus that glows in the dark, marked down to $14.95.
And that was the last thing I remember until I regained consciousness in the hospital, having suffered a concussion during the ensuing melee.
I missed out on Thanksgiving, alas, but I’m pretty thankful, nonetheless. Across the nation, a bunch of people sustained far greater injuries than mine, and a few even died. I was much more fortunate and have, thus far, survived the season of peace on earth and goodwill towards men without lasting damage.