“We pride ourselves on responding to the mood of America,” boasts Christopher McCann, CEO. “Consumers told us in focus groups that they want it real. They wholeheartedly rejected the usual joyful holiday themes we showcased. They feel small and powerless. Their budgets are stretched thin. The holidays mean bickering with relatives they don’t really want to see. And the reality that they have to break bread with them anyway to maintain the appearance of solidarity. What embodies all this turmoil more than America’s tenuous relationship with Mother Russia?”
The company’s signature “Mother Russia” bouquet reflects 2016 budget-minded consumer sentiments of resentment and resignation. Who makes your blood boil? Like Cabernet on a cream-colored rug, blood’s easier to spill than it is to clean up. So, stick it to them with a cheap floral arrangement. Red, the color of love and bloodshed, reminds families of lifelong grudges that simmer beneath the surface, like the drool in your loafers from Aunt Mabel’s beagle who lurks under the holiday table.
“Our designers really are brilliant," McCann adds. "They capture the innate tension of poppies. You love mother, and yet she stifles you. Poppies symbolize loss and death, but also resurrection and eternal life. They bring us back to holidays past where long after the final pie is eaten, those credit card bills remain. Poppies taunt us with the unfulfilled promise of tomorrow, the opium that never comes.”
Then, there’s the “Oh So Borscht.” McCann, a tad defensive, explains, “When people think of borscht, they think of beets not cabbage. Actually, borscht has both. But, who makes flower arrangements with beets? That’s absurd.”
Beets symbolize love. When you settle down for that long winter nap and cabbage symbolically appears in your dreams, you know that hypocrisy and ambiguity are afoot. Has someone been too secretive? Maybe your sister really is having an affair with your husband. But, really, how could you be upset with him when you are doing it with the pool boy? Is someone wearing a mask? If only Uncle Joe would use his CPAP machine to stop snoring, maybe everyone could get a good night’s sleep.
Think she’s cheating? Send an “Oh So Borscht” arrangement and see how she responds. The cabbage always knows.
Finally, there’s the “Anna Karenina.” Like Tolstoy’s Anna, who is victim to social norms and religious mores, your new Bahai sister-in-law is insecure and undecided as she hosts her first holiday for the family. Let her holiday table subtly announce her inadequacies to your family and friends. Roast beef or turducken? Why didn’t she iron and starch the tablecloth when she knew her mother-in-law would be there? What to do with your son who is shacking up with that two-bit waitress at Denny’s and they want to share the guest room? What would Jesus say if she invited her Jewish neighbors and serves shrimp cocktail? So many choices and she is bound to make the wrong choice. Don’t let her forget it.
Dark and somber like your ex who you invite for the sake of the kids, she whispers “winter is coming, you have no control.” White buds like snowballs recall the Blizzard of 2014, when Buffalo got seven feet of snow at Christmas. That could be you, snowed in with your ex and her feckless relatives, fighting for the last desiccated berries on the vine, amid the withered dreams of your broken marriage and that Christmas tree she always insisted you put up at Thanksgiving. Alas, Uncle Lou drank the last of your bourbon, so you’ll have to drink scotch. Maybe your ex will share her Valium. Be proactive, ply her with flowers.
Christmas, the time for psychological warfare. This year, say it with a cheap floral arrangement. It’s easy at 1-800 FLOWERS. Chris McCann is waiting for your call.
Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.