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Christmas Consumerism




Since The Season is nearly upon us (those Holiday Sales come sooner and sooner each year, don't they? Pretty soon we'll be seeing tinsel and mistletoe with the Back-To-School displays at Robinsons), I thought I'd take a few moments to reflect on the meaning of the holidays. My favorite memories are probably a lot like yours: food fights at the kids' table, hooking Christmas ornaments on the backs of each other's sweaters, and putting spoons on our noses after a few too many chardonnays.
family holding gifts
But for the past several years, it seems as though the age-old sentiments of peace, love and togetherness have been replaced by Gimmie, GIMMIE, GIMMIE!!. I don't know about you, but from Halloween to Christmas Eve, I'm so damn busy buying battery-operated foot massagers and glow-in-the-dark nosehair clippers (for that guy who has everything), I hardly have time to think about the holidays at hand, let alone enjoy them.family

The rest of the year belongs to the blind pursuit of stuff - Beanie Babies, designer shoes, plush velvet fainting couches and bigger homes to hold them all. Can't we reserve one time of year for the pursuit of another, more substantial kind of happiness? I'm not exactly a Christian, but that sandal-clad longhair did have some good ideas. Didn't he say that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor?

It's time for all of us to make the pact that Adbusters and The Media Foundation suggested years ago with the Gift Exemption Voucher. Print this certificate out and exchange it with one you love in agreement that the two of you will not exchange gifts this year.

If you think this sounds like a crappy idea, consider the following...
  • You will avoid the malls twice... once in buying gifts (actually, you'll probably make several trips) and once in returning all the unusable junk that people give you.
  • You will avoid the headache of trying to figure out what the hell everybody wants for Christmas.
  • You won't have to wrap anything or look for parking 3 miles from the store.
  • Though I usually buy pretty nice stuff, I am broke this year, and you'll probably get me something more expensive than I get you, so save your dough and get whatever you want for yourself. [If you're Republican, you can't help but see the logic here.]
  • The 20 minutes you would have spent opening things like day-glo picture frames and plaid sweater vests could be spent raiding the fridge for holiday leftovers, nabbing the last of the holiday power-punch, or chatting with that hot friend your cousin brought in from out of town.
A final thought: Holiday Cards. I don't know who gets paid to write these horrid things, but why don't you make your own? Since you won't be in the Disney-sized line at Bloomingdales, you can't say you don't have the time, can you? Get a blank card and fill it with your own message [which will be much better than the "Deck the halls with boughs of holly / Hope your holiday is jolly" smut on most Hallmark cards]. Or, if you're feeling creative, make your own from cool stationery or special textured papers [not to be all Martha Stewart, but I have seen some really cool ones].