It’s Thanksgiving officially!

25 11 2004

Yay! Family will be here in about twelve hours! Sweet!

So these holidays have been making me think, even this early into them…

According to the Salvation Army, total projected retail sales for the 2004 holiday shopping season are at $219.9 BILLION! Wow! What a great thing for our economy, eh?

Also, according to the SA, the 2002 Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign (the bell-ringers) netted $90 million.

Both seem like a lot, right? Take $90 million and multiply it times 2000. That still won’t get you close to $219.9 billion.

The average consumer in the U.S. plans on spending $702.03 on gifts this season, $406.52 of which will be on the family, according to the National Retail Federation.

I couldn’t imagine spending $703.03 on family. Not now, not in ten years! When will I make that kind of money! Even if I do, would I be that blind to what’s going on in the world? I hope not!

What the fuck!?! I walked out of Starbuck’s the other day, and a man asked me for change. I gave a split seconds thought, then took all of my change out and stuck it in his cup. That was around $.75. I paid at least $3.50 for my coffee. Anyone caught paying that much for coffee by a homeless person at LEAST owes that person their change. The state of social welfare in America is deplorable, and I feel disgusting being a part of it.

Now I’m not dumping on gift-giving, but I do find aspects of it unnerving. Like, how people go into serious debt to give their family a “good” Christmas when that really equates into giving gifts to spoiled children and bickering extended family. $700 fucking dollars! That’s not something the average American can afford on one month’s wages… I don’t think… thus the “holiday shopping” debt.

My first girlfriend and her dad were born again Christians. She liked giving and receiving gifts, but she wasn’t raised receiving big or numerous gifts from her dad. Apparently, her family thought her dad was being a dick by not giving Christmas presents, when what he was really doing was staying true to what Christmas is about: not greed. Love.

I mean, Christ! Literally! All the Christmas specials in the world can’t get the average American to figure that crap out! But I digress…

My mom is one of the most caring people I’ve known, and she never hesitates to get gifts for all the kids in the family and quite a few extended family, not to mention spending more than I (and my dad) would like spent on me. God bless her, because she’s trying to make people happy, but I wish things weren’t like this, where we give out of compulsion and guilt, rather than love.

I was a spoiled brat as a kid and didn’t necessarily get what I wanted every Christmas but rather something very close or, if it was too expensive, something that was still expensive but within my parents’ budget. Nintendo, Nintendo 64, a BMX bike, etc. These things were so stupid for me to fret over, yet I did.

Looking back, I should have concentrated on the kinder, truer things my family has done. I’ll give two examples.

Our family has a tradition of going downtown every year with some good friends (ex-neighbors). We check out the cool Dayton’s eight floor auditorium Christmas display (though I guess it’s Marshall Field’s now.) Every year, we’d see that, then sit on Santa’s lap, then eat and finally see the Holidazzle Parade (sick and luminescent as it is.)

One year, when we were waiting for the other family, my dad walked over to this guy sitting in a mall entrance outside of Dayton’s and gave the guy a $20 bill, then told him to have a merry Christmas and get some food. I was shocked and amazed.

“Wow,” I thought, “that was so selfless!”

After that, I really tried to embody what he is. I fall short often, but once in a while, I feel it.

In a more significant gesture, my family sponsored two families on two consecutive Christmases through a non-profit organization. Each year, my mom would go out and buy presents that were on the list for each boy and girl in the family as well as one thing for each of the parents that those parents said they needed as well as a luxury item they requested. A couple days before Christmas, we’d go to the store and buy everything that family put on a shopping list for a Christmas dinner (and more.) My mom would wrap up the presents.

On Christmas Eve day, we would truck all the stuff to the family downtown and bring it all to them. The kids would go nuts, and the parents would just be in awe. It was an amazing experience, and I feel like if everyone in America did this, we’d be a lot better off. Socially, America might not be crumbling; and our kids might not be spoiled-ass brats, as more and more per generation seem to be.

Oy. I said my piece. Thoughts are welcome, as always.




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