Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Gifts

All this talk about Black Friday and getting up to shop at 5 am is totally lost on me. I have never gotten up that early to go shopping in my life, nor do I relish the thought of fighting huge crowds just to get an item on sale.

Over the years, the shopaholic extravaganza has pushed back further and further until now you see some stores featuring Christmas trees and decorations and so on right after Labor Day.

I have always been a fan of savoring each holiday in its turn. All of our major holidays have traditions associated with them and there are special pleasures that go with each one. For example, we enjoy fireworks on July 4, Labor Day usually celebrates the last of the outdoor summer festivals and backyard BBQ, costume parties, trick or treating, and honoring the dead on Halloween, Thanksgiving is the big dinner with family and friends, and at Christmas we usually savor more festive gatherings of family and friends amid abundant decorations of evergreens, trees, lights, seasonal food, drinks, music and so on.

I feel that if we give people we know and care about things that they really want and need throughout the year, this is how we really show that we care about them. Then on Christmas, the Christmas stocking idea is quaint enough, and presents pleasures to members of our household, and continues the folkloric traditions in that way.

Although segments of the retail industry structures itself to encourage people to develop shopaholic habits every fall, I have long felt that holidays are best appreciated if we return to the roots of the festivities and savor each one in its season. Black Friday to me has always seemed like artificially contrived chaos.

With all of the changes our economy and our careers are going through, perhaps it is time to reconsider this madness. We will always buy and sell things, because that is the nature of human interaction - giving and receiving are part of every day life. We buy and sell things all year round. But it has not always been a holiday tradition to begin Christmas shopping just after Labor Day or stampede to malls on the day after Thanksgiving.

After all, what do we mean by giving a gift? Is it about providing someone something they want or need? Is it about investing personal energy into creating that which we give? Is it about showing someone that you love and care about them? Or is it simply about buying whatever is on sale?

Changing this rather recent pattern of behavior might add to the quality of life for all of us. At least, that is my opinion of it. Since attention was on this subject in all the media, I felt like offering my thoughts on it. I don't know how many of you feel the same, but certainly it is worth consideration.

No comments: