Shop ’til You Drop? Not!

Nov 27, 2012 | 5 comments

When I was a child, we counted the days until Santa would arrive.  By the time I had children of my own, the media was letting us know how many shopping days we had until Christmas.  Nowadays we are besieged by news of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and this very morning my computer tells me it’s “Cyber Tuesday.”

I feel battered by the onslaught and even a bit belittled – as in why do ‘they’ keep on about all the wonderful products I should/could/would be buying if I were like everyone else.  My mother’s oft-used expression, “If only I had the wherewithal to do all the above things…” comes to mind.  But, in actuality, even if I had the kind of disposable income that the media says ‘everyone’ is spending, I doubt if I would change my ways.

Like many of my generation, I grew up in the era that truly believed “it’s the thought that counts” when it came to gift giving.  Our shopping sprees happened, not before Christmas, but before school began in the fall and we were buying what was needed in the way of clothing for the coming school year.  Any other shopping was done on an ‘as needed’ basis and after considerable patching and repairing and re-making had already transpired.

In those days, the word “consumerism” (that seems to be the current buzz-word and ultimate measuring stick of economic prosperity) still referred to “advocacy of the rights and interests of consumers” which had been its definition since it was invented (do you invent words?) in 1915.  The current meaning of consumerism, at least according to Wikipedia, is “a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts.”

I often remind myself of my grandmother’s words to her eldest daughter in 1915: We must make the best of things as they are this Christmas and enjoy the spirit of the day, overlooking the lack of material things.  Certainly, words to live by in this household, even today.  I wonder if my grandmother would have felt a bit depressed, as I do, if she had been besieged by the intrusions of radio and television and cyberspace?


  1. Marion

    I too am sick of all the commercialism of Christmas and that feeling of ‘having to buy lots’. We certainly do lose the total meaning of Christmas and the media does a number on us all for sure. I too grew up with the value of staying within our budget and of course we had no plastic cards in those days to be maxed out. Don’t I sound ‘old’ but certain values certainly have gone out the window. My ideal Christmas would be for the whole family to go to the beach, make our own Christmas ornaments for a cute pine or spruce we could cut, have a nice family meal on Christmas day, pop popcorn, take a walk on the beach, play lots of board games (leave the electronic games at home), visit with old friends and be content. I’m sure this sounds like the most boring experience for the younger generation but maybe they should try it.

  2. Kitt Fleming

    Sadly, I say, it is a different world we are living in. As we have made great advancements, the magical moments of our childhood have been caste aside. We always got a new board game and puzzle for Christmas providing many hours of enjoyment and family togetherness. And now, we sit with laptops on our laps, the TV blaring the latest football game, and refrains of “must we dress up for dinner”. Yes!

  3. Kathleen Shaw

    I agree with both of you. One way I avoid all the mess is to not have TV or listen to the radio (but then yes, now our computers “scream” at us to buy!). It does make it easier, and more pleasant, to not have television or radio adverts surrounding you all the time. I also avoid malls and big box stores as overwhelming, and this year did my little bit of holiday shopping totally in Ilwaco, LB and OP at small businesses.

  4. Stephanie Frieze

    Kathleen has the right idea about shopping locally and not listening to the sales pitches. NPR and OPB don’t have advertizements. The best way we can keep the holidays meaningful to us is to create traditions that don’t involve copious amounts of money and that what money we spend gets put into the hands of the artisans. I DO shop online sometimes, especially through ETSY which is a website exactly to put money into the hands of those who have created things I want to give and kept it out of the hands of Sam Walton’s heirs. Another thing we do for the grandchildren is to give experiences rather than toys. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box and say that the above picture is charming, Sydney!

  5. Linda

    I just found your blog and this photo brings tears to my eyes. I feel as though I stepped into a time machine and am back in my grandmother’s living room at Christmas. The old fashioned heavy tinsel, the piano, even the oriental rug look just like hers. You sure were a darling little girl, Sydney! Thanks so much for this post.


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