Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Christmas Break... from all the Shopping!

While conservative pundits (idiots) on television constantly rant and rave about Christmas losing it's traditions to stores and institutions that display banners that say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", they never seem to question the rush to the store itself. Or sometimes they might go on and on about how their local school isn't doing the 'Christmas
Pageant' this year, all while finding out that the whole 'Christmas Pageant' was performed entirely by volunteers and surprise, surprise none of these god-fearing pundits are willing to volunteer.
    Instead of volunteering, these rich idiots would probably rather go to the most expensive store downtown and buy a boatload of whatever they want for themselves and their families and say that they are doing it for "The Christmas Spirit" because the store where they purchased their merchandise is proudly displaying a 'Christmas Tree'. And while the debate about 'christianity' in Christmas rages on, there's always a boatload of shopping and spending going on that no tv pundit seems to want to question. The store says: 'Christmas' and so we Shop, shop, shop!! That's apparently what good christians are supposed do.... just buy stuff. And the truth is that no one really cares if the store has a banner that says 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays' because it's just another crappy excuse to shop more. The Church of Consumerism! It's all baloney!
   Well, I don't like shopping!! Not only does it cost us our money, our time and our environment, it's also costing us our faith and our dignity and our true character. And I don' t think we have to shop so much to be christian or to celebrate Christmas.

Don't go into debt:
If you want to do something truly Christian this Christmas; Don't go into Debt!! :

The King James Bible: Romans 13:8 - Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Two or three months before Christmas, in the fall of every year, usually when the big-kids are going to high school and college, there's a big push by credit card companies to get new customers, and that includes your kids that have just turned 18. The reason they want you signed-up for a credit card by October is because by December, they're hoping you build-up a nice big hunk of debt that you can pay off in smaller payments, hopefully clearing off your credit card just before the next Christmas, so you can run it up again. Credit-card companies make millions, literally, from Christmas debt. Generally speaking, debt is good business for big business, but for the customer it's a con-game. Buying now and paying later in smaller increments with high-interest is a horrible scam that is perfectly legal. Customers paying for goods in debt-installments pay anywhere from ten to a hundred percent or more over the regular cost of an item, whether you're buying a toaster or a car. The installments are sometimes so long-lasting that It's not uncommon that people are left with christmas-debt from items that have either already been used-up, worn out, or outlived their usefulnesss. In other words, by springtime or even summer, you might still be making payments for stuff that you no longer own. Whether it's broken down or already been replaced, or perhaps it's a toy or a video game that the kids simply don't play with anymore, the payments may be there much longer than the thing that you bought.

The reason many people end up in debt is partly because they haven't been taught and don't know how to use cash as a way to budget themselves. There was a time when it was important to physically see the money leaving your wallet. It made you more aware of your spending and more careful. You wanted to spend less so that you could do something else later. Our parents weren't born into a world of widely available ATMs and easy credit and they learned to budget with cash before it became one of those things that had to be taught by financial self-help books. Our grandparents often had a healthy and formidable distrust of credit cards (God love 'em for it), and they usually refused to apply for credit cards or carry them even if they qualified. They also had to live with the idea that they couldn't even go to the bank to withdraw their own money on Sundays. When they ran out of cash, they simply had to stop buying stuff. And what's wrong with that?

Too Much Stuff:
With the massive amounts of money spent on advertising at christmas, you'd think that Christmas was all about stuff... Whether it's buying stuff, buying stuff to wrap-up the stuff we bought or buying stuff to decorate other stuff. It's at this time of year that our houses get full of stuff. And even if you buy something that is supposed to be used up or eaten like a cake, you're still left with stuff because most of all the stuff that we're left with after Christmas is in the form of packaging and that will likely only end up in landfill. Whether we keep it or throw it in the trash, we pay for it either way. So why burden ourselves with so much stuff? Half the time no one really knows what to buy for the other person anyway, and so they end up buying something generic like another tie, or worse a gift card that only encourages the other person to shop for more stuff. (BTW, that's another scam by the stores/malls. A large percentage of gift cards are lost, forgotten or left to expire and therefore never used. So the stores can profit $20, $50 or more for literally doing nothing more than swiping a 5-cent card)

More visits means more Malls:
You'd think that with all the time, gasoline and nerves that shoppers waste in bumper-to-bumper traffic or looking for a parking space at the mall, that some of these people would give up and just stop shopping at the mall. But then Christmas comes around and the average person feels that he or she has to buy everything for everyone and where else are you going to get everything, except at the mall? The unfortunate irony is that the more that you shop at the mall, the more malls that they build, the more people go there, usually in cars, and the more traffic problems and parking problems that you get, and so they build bigger malls and more of them, with bigger parking lots and that, of course, only encourages more people to come to the malls in their cars and etcetera, etcetera....and after about three generations of mall-shopping maniacs, humans no longer remember what the hell they did before there were malls.
Well, I am here to tell you boys and girls, and you may not believe me. But before there were malls, there was paradise... and then they paved over it so you could have another mall.

STOP SHOPPING! Even if it's only to Give Yourself a chance to Do Something Else:
With all the shopping, shopping, shopping that's going on, you'd think that shopping was the most enjoyable activity ever. But for most people, it's a pain and aggravation.  For every one thing that's gotten as a gift, however, there's about an hour and a half spent in stores, malls, parking lots, transit or simply walking through another mall. By this measure, every three gifts, therefore, represents a pair of sore feet. Every six gifts given means a possible headache or backache, and every ten gifts is a potential argument with a grumpy spouse or partner.
 It's no surprise, and no new idea, that maybe if you spent less time (and money) shopping, then you might be happier in the long run. In fact, you might have time for other stuff that might be more fun or more enjoyable, such as skating, tobogganing or other winter excursions.
   Better yet, you might just decide to take a break and have a beer and listen to some nice songs, like a few Christmas tunes, or maybe some interesting song about anti-consumerism.
   Or perhaps, if you're truly the religious type, you might even go to church and learn what Christmas is all about.

Say a prayer for the things you need, and maybe another for the things that you don't. Maybe the lord will provide, and maybe he won't. But it costs nothing to pray and maybe you might still have some change in your pocket and a good time without all the stuff that you were going to buy. In any case, be reasonable: Christmas is consumerism only so long as we are fooled into believing that we need to buy stuff to enjoy it. There could be such thing as a more meaningful and joyful celebration of the birth of Jesus. It could be experiences and games and jokes. It doesn't have to be stacked with products and merchandise advertised on television.