12.24.2008

Christmastime Thoughts and the Marketing Barrage

You cannot turn on the news these days without hearing about this being the worst retail season since they started tracking retail spending at Christmas way back in 1969. And, as Amy notes, maybe this isn't such a bad thing. I don't agree with everything in her post or linked articles, in fact, I think the alternet quote is utter bullshit, but the idea of moving beyond the spend, spend, spend mentality is extremely laudable.

We are subjected to a non-stop barrage of retailism that even knowing it is coming only deflects some of it. The sheer volume of the marketing is unavoidable and dilutes what the holiday is really supposed to be about.

No, I'm not talking about the religiousity of it all and the birth of Jesus Christ. Sure, that's an aspect of it but, anyone who knows me, I'm not really all that interested in religiousness. Don't get me wrong, I rather enjoy some of the mythology of the holiday but I far, far prefer the sentiments underlying the religiousness. The idea of caring for those less fortunate, loving thy neighbor, opening your heart and celebrating with those you love and love you.

Too much of this season is shouted, too much of this season is getting elbowed while jockeying for the last widget on display at Target or, worse, Wal-Mart. Too much of this season isn't about the season but is an almost zombie-fied response to the marketing barrage. I look in the shopping carts of people at Target and see, literally, nothing of real value, just a ton of plastic crap that fills up the space under the tree while leaving the space in the receiver's heart empty.

I would ten times rather get one really thoughtful present than a dozen pieces of shit that mean nothing to me. It really and truly IS the thought that counts. I wouldn't say no to a Wii but that's because it would be an awesome and fun thing for my whole family to enjoy.

I'm not immune to it but I try to apply y same critical eye and thought to everything I see and hear. I loathe the commercials exhorting people to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on new cars or ridiculous watches. As if piling on debt is proof that you care about someone. If you really care about someone and want to demonstrate that tomorrow morning, then take some of your time and make them something they will love.

Enjoy your Christmas regardless. And, if you've got little ones, I hope their lit up eyes as they shred open presents fills your heart with love and joy. I know I enjoy the heck out of it and sometimes I catch myself thinking just how far my life has come. My children are a prime source of my joy (and frustration if you really want some honesty) and giving them presents at Christmas is fun for them and for me and my wife too.
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