Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday and Consumerism

How was your Thanksgiving?  Mine was alright.  I spent the morning doing laundry (for the upteenth time.  We wash about 7 loads a week or so.)  Then HB and I made the pumpkin pie.  He stirred; I added.  I didn't make the crust from scratch.  Our kitchen is the size of a postage stamp so there's not exactly a lot of space for making the dough and dealing with the Turkey, and the other trimmings.  I put the bird in the oven.  Everything came out great.  Set the table.  Even decorated it.  Things were fine until...

Until we set the kids at the table.  HB was woken up early so he naturally threw a colossal fit complete with me having to prevent him from throwing his plate and drink across the table.  Knee took two bites and wailed the whole time.  Poor bubba has three teeth coming in.  So Hubby looked at me smiled and said "Some Thanksgiving, huh?"  Course I was thankful that the food turned out well.  Including the pie.  Which the last time I made a pie after two hours in the oven did.not.bake.right.   That was four years ago and I haven't attempted one since.  But HB's been asking about it so I made one with him.  And it was fine.  May have to make more. 

There's only one piece of pie left.  Since it's Friday I gave up dessert.  And that's hard when the rest of your family wants to eat the pie unto themselves.  Even Knee likes it.  I had to give Hubby the stink eye and tell him to lay off my piece.  "Oh, come on, go ahead and eat it now.  It's only pie."  "You sound like the Devil talking."  "You know people say that sort of thing all the time.  How is anyone going to make a retort after that statement? It's a stupid sort of thing to use. 'of the devil' " Hubby makes a guff sound.  "I didn't say 'of the devil' I said sounds like the devil.  'Jesus turn this rock into bread.  Jesus throw yourself off this building.'  Even God had to deal with these temptations."  And then our conversation devolved.  It's hard work making a fully grown man into a saint.  Especially one who obstinately doesn't believe in things like sainthood.

So this morning I opened my e-mail to find a plethora of Black Friday deals.  I promise I only bought Hubby's Christmas gift and one deal I've been eying.  I'm not big into going overboard with Christmas.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday detract from the true meaning of Christmas which is the celebration of Christ's birth.  Now don't get me wrong.  I certainly see the merit in supporting small businesses particularly when they are trying to get in the black before tax season, but at what cost?

Reverend Billy created the Stop Shopping Church to illustrate the point that we should be more thoughtful in our gift giving.  For example, did you know that all Christmas lights are made in china?  All of them.  Even pre-lit trees are made in China.  Check out Priest's Wife's excellent post on the subject.  Or that people rack up huge amounts of debt over Christmas?  Whatever happened to charity?

I'll leave the good Reverend to share some of the thoughts that I have about holiday shopping...

In our family we don't even really give gifts on Christmas.  I have in the past, but I think it was a bit much.  Nope we give the kids an orange and religious book on St. Nicholas's Day (Dec. 6).  And then the extended family goes nuts on Christmas day (that's what you get when they're the only grandkids on both sides).  And then I go to the consignment/thrift stores for some epiphany hunting and HB's birthday hunting.  That's it.

Some people have suggested only three gifts:  fun gift (gold), for the body (myrrh), and for the mind (frankincense)  It's really interesting to see how other families are trying to pair it down for their families and keep the focus on Jesus's birthday (baking him a cake and that sort of thing). 

The other problem is that it's tough when your kids birthdays surround Christmas so it's not completely unavoidable to give gifts.  Nor can you exactly space it so that their birthday is their special gift giving day without it seeming more like part of Christmas. Fortunately Knee is only turning one so he doesn't even know better.  The plan is to bake him a cake and invite the neighbors.  I want to get my crafting act together and put together a photo collage similar to the one his brother has and I think that will be more memorable for him later in life (since one year olds don't even realize they are turning one).  For HB the idea is to throw him a birthday party and invite friends from school, rosary group, neighbors, you get the idea.  We've even toyed with the idea of doing a combined small party for the boys when we go visit family but we haven't pushed it yet what with all the holiday parties and trying to coordinate when my brother gets time off.

I wish I had all the answers to how to slow it down.  But I don't.  I keep reminding myself every time I check my e-mail or push a button do I really need that?  Like with the shoes, do I really need them?  Yes.  And I'm supporting fellow Americans.  What does my husband need for Christmas (despite him swearing that it should be the second time of year other than your birthday that you get what you want)?  Do my children really need more toys?  Not really.  Although HB is catching on to stuff so quickly a few more religious books certainly won't hurt.  And they were used.  And purchased from trade credit.

I still feel too guilty....maybe that isn't a bad thing.

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