Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday madness

Is it just me or is there is an air of desperation about the Christmas advertising? It starts earlier and earlier every year. You can try to avoid the hype, but it takes a lot of discipline and isn’t always possible. By mid-November you can’t go out in public without being bombarded with increasingly strident demands to buy, buy buy. This year I saw Christmas decorations on store shelves in October. And television, well, do I even need to say anything? I don’t want to listen to Christmas music for weeks on end every time I go out of the house. I especially don’t want to listen to it in November. It makes me want to stay home. So I do.

Christmas presents--the concept is deeply engrained in us, from the time we're kids. Now there even seems to be an unofficial holiday devoted to Christmas shopping, Black Friday. Seriously, what does this say about us as a society? What can you say about a society where people riot, break down doors, are trampled to death just to stock up on cheap consumer goods? Does it ever occur to anybody just to stop the madness? Stop brainwashing your kids?

Imagine that you just say “No” to Christmas presents. You don't have to spend weeks endlessly shopping for stuff for other people that they don't really need, in turn for which they will give you stuff you don't need either. My family and I agreed years ago, and my ex after that, to stop buying each other presents. And you know what? It works. It makes for a much nicer holiday. It took me a while to train some of my friends, but my parents were all for it We all readily agreed that we have way more stuff than we need. Why spend more money to buy people stuff that they can buy for themselves? The money we would have spent on presents now goes toward doing fun things. We go out for a nice meal, have a party or simply save it. Now there’s a novel idea. I don't miss the consumerist madness, I and the people near and dear to me don’t end up with stuff we don't want, and I don't have to spend my limited free time trying to guess what someone else wants.

There have been a few who are resistant to the idea and insist on buying me stuff anyway, but I just remind them kindly that I don’t participate in the madness and they eventually get it. Try this, you’ll see. It’s probably easier if you don’t have kids. But seriously, step away from the hype and you’ll see how insane it is.

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