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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Time for a Last Minute Christmas Reality Check

Christmas Shopping in Blister               photo by wlk photography

Bah, Humbug !    I have to run to the mall for some last-minute gifts.  With only a few days left before the big day,  procrastinators beware.    It really  is time to scurry around for those precious  gifts, so  hurry, beat the Dec. 24th   rush, listen to the nice Christmas music, and do that last minute shopping. Get the perfect gift.  Spend that money.
  Perhaps there really are some  lost opportunities not available  to you again until next year,  like those you missed on Black Friday, which, conveniently, is another artificial and  manufactured  retail trap for the gullible.
When you do  get to the mall, find a parking spot  and shop frantically,  are you being encouraged to panic and buy without thinking?  Are you  being taken advantage of by retailers using the psychology of Christmas and encouraged to spend more money than you can really afford  as we are increasingly encouraged to do  every year?

The “last minute rush” and panic is built upon guilt.  The Christmas season is pushed upon us  just after Hallowe’en, and retailers everywhere delight in pushing our buttons.  The psychology of Christmas sales.  A two-month shopping spree, the retailing game is  at it’s best and coincidentally, the most profitable. Don’t think, just spend.  
Did your brother give you a better gift than you gave him last year?  Did you forget your cousin completely, so have to make up for it this year?   Did you  spend more on your son than on your daughter?   How about your sister?  Was  there an element of favoritism involved and the guilt that  lasted all year has to be “fixed” with that perfect gift this year? How about dear old Mom? Nothing is too good for Mom, everybody knows that.  
Did you change your mind at the last minute and decide “those” gifts were not expensive enough, and were not “meaningful enough"  so you need more?     Did your best friend buy you something extravagant and you have to make up for it this year?  Do you have to sell your soul for the lavish gift of your dreams for your significant other? Will it finally be a “perfect Christmas “ if you can only  spend enough?  
Are you running out of time? Buy this, grab that, and quickly....I can run  the credit card up and worry about it in January. Stop.
 Maybe it IS  time for a reality check.  
Let us slow down, breathe deeply and recognize that today’s Christmas retailing business is structured and  built only for commercial  profit.  Retailing  has virtually  nothing to do with promoting peace and goodwill or             “ helping you”.  Retailers are not  showing you  the real meaning of Christmas with  “warm and fuzzy” tear-jerking home-coming promotions  so common at this time of year. “The perfect gift solves everything” according to the retailer.
  As long as it is expensive enough.
  “Merry Christmas, Mom”, as the returning,  surprised, and obviously  lonely  mother sees how beautiful the “perfect commercial products” from XYZ   have  made her home look.  Someone that has not bothered to visit all year  has showed up,  done the work and spent money they probably needed for their child’s clothing,  but so what?   It is the  retail glitz that counts. The warm and fuzzy moment.   Is that any better?  No.
 It plays upon the psychology of Christmas and the minds of the guilty.  Unfair practice?  Yes,  but retailing knows no bounds.
 In more relaxed times, Christmas had meaning.  There were small, individual hand-made presents, arts and carefully  crafted  items that were specially made for the delighted  individual to whom  they would be presented .  Perhaps they were made even  months prior to the big event. Only if one failed to be thoughtful,  constructive, and well organized would one have to dash to the market in chagrin at the last minute  to find something, anything, to “fill the gap” for the “missing”  present.  Buying a “store-made” gift was the exception, not the command performance  it is today.  “Home-made” gifts are shown to be  less glitzy than “bought” ones are, and promoted to be deemed of lesser value.
Lesser value? “Folk art”, hand-made gifts and objects  from 60 to 100 years old or older may  command prices in the tens of thousands of dollars today.   Compare that to a cheap ‘similar gift” made in Japan or China. No such comparison will be available 60 years from now, since the cheap import would have been long discarded as trash. 

The best price of the year is deep-discounted by desperate retailers trying to top off annual sales and maximize profit, -- not to do you any favours. How can a product be worth  $ 99.50 all year,  and then suddenly be a “once in a lifetime opportunity ” at $19.95 just because “Christmas” came along?  A little bit of skepticism is in order.   

The fact is, that gift you have the sudden urge to buy  was probably manufactured  in China for mere pennies, and the real cost of it may have been your job, or that of your neighbour. Think for yourselves.
It is Christmas, sure, there may only be a few days of retailer “magic”   left, but that really is enough  time to think for yourself.   Your smarter better half may even  love you even more when you show her the zero balance on your credit card come  January.    

I’m off to the mall.  Gotta get that perfect present.  I  could have made something nice instead.
Why didn’t I think of this four months ago?

Bah, Humbug!


  1. as a zero consumer, i may add my humbuggery to the simple holiday chorus. it saddens me to witness the rush-rant-rave circus around this time of year.
    few hold the power of no-more; no more holiday slavery--no more second guessing expectations--no more using non existent funds for poor products..
    bah, the smell of a home made pie, the candle by the door, the pine boughs and ribbons, and perhaps a real gift made with real love..that rich emotion..priceless.

  2. " A real gift made with real love..that rich emotion..priceless"

    Never better said, Nadine. Merry Christmas!


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