It’s all downhill from here. After Thanksgiving the world plunges into a dark abyss of mass hysteria and insanity that peaks at Christmas but doesn’t quite let up until spring. Here the darkness is tactile. These days the black blanket goes over the valley in an icy shadow at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Brrrrr!

Thanksgiving is arguably one of the world’s best holidays. Friends and family show their soft sides. Odd ducks and misfits are invited to dinner. Some family members share a hidden inner-heart that indicates potential humanness. People enjoy companionship, food and wine and sweets. We reflect and express thanks for the friends and the bounty. I love it. This year I ate a lot of vegetarian dishes and it was fine.

Have you noticed that as soon as the thanks have been uttered and the warm gatherings are over, people can get tense, sensitive, greedy and shabby with each other … in other words, business as usual?

The minute the last guest leaves and the front door closes, apparently the national dynamic shifts. TV ads pimp plastic (and lead) junk made by our Chinese banker’s children. Our kids want it. Their kids make it. Our parents have to give it. It’s the economy!

The top toy this year? I thought you’d never ask! For the third year in a row parents in the know are knocking each other over to get at the limited supply of “HatchiBabies Hatching Egg with Interactive Pet Baby.” A review by The Strategist says that, “When you buy one of these HatchiBabies, the surprise is whether it will be a boy or a girl. So in addition to brushing, feeding, and petting your toy, you can host your own gender-reveal party.”

That’s just the gateway. You will also need to purchase the “Season 4 Hatchimals CollEGGtibles,” and the “Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Neon Nightglow 12-Pack Egg Carton with Season 4 Hatchimals.”

Radio stations and mall sound systems are barraging numb listeners with relentless Christmas music. (Nothing says desperation in a music career quite like a Christmas CD, but that’s another column). Savings are depleting as expectations rise.

The day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday.” Retailers can go from the red into the black on one day of frenzied Christmas shopping. In 2016 more than 101 million people went shopping. In 2017 online sales totaled $7.9 billion. They are still stacking up the cash but this year the online number was expected to rise by over four percent.

If you are an average American (which is doubtful), you can look forward to walking five miles in shopping center parking lots, stores and malls. A survey from Phillips shows that during this special time Americans spend at least 90 minutes waiting in line. We spend two hours and 27 minutes wrapping the 22 gifts we purchased but receive only 14 gifts from others. We spend more than six hours shopping online.

Guys will spend $725 on average with the ladies spending only $609. Gen X-ers spend the most and baby boomers are the cheapest averaging a mere $576.

This is all in preparation for what can quickly become the saddest day of the year, Christmas. While the words of religious reverence are still echoing through the houses of worship, the sounds of consumers shredding gift wrap are tearing through what would normally be a tranquil morning. Indifferent workers from India will be toiling overtime to tabulate the credit card purchases to have the bad news ready by New Year’s.

And while there are pockets of genuine joy to be found, they are rarely attached to consumer goods made overseas. Count yourself lucky if you find your own joy. And be prepared. It’s at these moments that life proves to be cruelest.

Steve Skinner wishes you a happy holiday and reminds you to shop local. Reach him at