Art Buchwald, Holy After-Christmas Sale! WP, Dec. 25, 2003

 As everyone knows, the little baby Jesus was born on Dec. 25 in a stable in Bethlehem. At first, his birthday was a religious holiday, but as time went on it also became a commercial one.

This is how the commercial one evolved:

When the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, the first thing they built was a shopping mall. After the first year, business was terrible, so Miles Macy decided to have a sale of bearskins, muskets and turkey feathers.

The sale was ignored because he didn't have a good reason to attract people to the mall in the dead of winter. Then his merchandise manager said, "Why don't we have a sale in honor of Jesus's birth?"

Miles Macy said, "Won't that be considered irreligious?"

"Possibly at first, but as soon as the Pilgrims find out it means jobs, they'll go for it. We'll call it 'Christmas Day' and we will have pre-Christmas sales and post-Christmas sales, but we'll close on the 25th so people will go to church."

"Why should people be attracted to our sales?" Miles asked.

"Because we will spread the word that Christmas is special and people have to exchange gifts with each other or be considered pagans."

He continued, "Now get this -- we advertise that Christmas is really for children and they expect to get as many toys as their parents can afford and more than the kid next door. To get the ball rolling, we'll announce that Santa Claus is the one who gives kids presents at Christmas. They can sit on his lap and tell him what they want and then Santa will tell their parents what department it's in."

Miles said, "Why don't we send someone into the woods to gather holly and mistletoe to decorate the store?"

"I'll make a note of it."

"What about the Indians?"

"So far, they're an untapped market, but as soon as they see the bargains they will come flocking to the store. We will mark down waterproof tents and give away Christmas carol music boxes with every sale item."

"It is just the shot in the arm that the colony needs," Miles said.

"Not only that, but Christmas will save the economy. Without it, we'd be just another mall in the wilderness."

And so the first commercial celebration went off with a bang. Not only did Macy cut prices to the core, but for every item a shopper bought he got one free. The Plymouth Chorale sang Christmas carols in the toy department and an elf handed out peppermint sticks at the door.

What made the holiday sales so successful was that Miles was able to get rid of inventory that he had been stuck with, including men's buckle shoes and women's aprons. After that, word of Macy's success spread throughout the colonies. More people went to malls than to church. It was a sight to see.

I know some people are not going to believe this is the way Christmas started, but they are the same people who believe there is no Santa Claus.