Last Saturday I was traveling on a local highway not far from home.
Traffic was fairly light when suddenly it began to slow down. An accident maybe? As I approached I realized this was no accident. No this had to do with-you may have guessed it-the "mall" further down the road off to the right.
Now this was no "strip" mall mind you but one of those mega-malls that have proliferated in America like some giant, mushroom attracting America's favorite pastime, shopping at the mall.
And this being the last weekend before Christmas, the backup entering this all American "creation" was surely a half mile long.
I thought why would anyone intentionally get stuck in a traffic jam going to a mall? Last minute Christmas shopping for the "perfect" gift that couldn't be found anywhere else? Too late to order it on-line to arrive for that "magic" day?
Maybe I'm just the grinch of Christmas but the whole shopping madness, including "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving, just baffles me.
Now don't get me wrong, gifts to young children on Christmas is appropriate. Seeing their joy is priceless.
But giving little "Johnny" or "Sally" some 25 gifts or more is a bit over the top don't you think? He, she gets overwhelmed, even disinterested after a while with the endless number of toys and games they find under the tree.
Why must they be given so many? Because the parents can afford it? Because the parents are sort of "keeping up with Jones's" in the neighborhood showering their kids with endless gifts? After all don't want to let the little tykes to feel their friends got more than them?
Sorry...this excessive gift giving seems to have taken over Christmas, making a complete mockery of the very idea of giving.
And then there's the well to do adults giving to other well to do adults. Yes I'm reminded the act of giving to someone you love is what you want to do at Christmas. But giving a new Lexus-an ad that's become ever present these last few years? Is that what Christmas giving is all about?
Of course the idea of excess giving at Christmas is not a new phenomenon; not something that just happened.
Since the end of WWII as the purchasing power of people increased, the amount of gift giving at Christmas grew hand in hand. To be sure there was always needy families that eked out a living so their kids weren't showered with endless gifts at Christmas.
But like a lot of "things" in America, the excessive giving at Christmas mirrors the excessive buying of clothes, shoes, dresses, you name it; much of it, if not all, beyond all need. The proliferation of storage warehouses surely attests to that growth phenomenon; not enough room in closets and basements to store it all.
Think about it, isn't need what shopping is supposed to be about?
Maybe this old coot is too old fashioned, outside the trend lines of buying in America.
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