Today was the first time this year I could think of bringing a jacket. We were as far into the Fall as Florida would allow. Now with this time of year comes a few big events, or Holidays some may call them. No, not Thanksgiving- not Christmas, but the month or so in between these two holidays. When our national past-time really flourishes. We shop. Regardless of the amount of unemployed, or the protests against big business, we further ourselves in debt with plastic and its deceptive fees and false promises.
I haven’t saying anything that hasn’t been said by the preponderance of college kids, or collegiate in nature. There is something about being light in wallet but heavy in pursuit of knowledge that brings such questions to mind. Could it be the effect of the first- that the lack of money allows for a change in perception, or the second in that knowledge of the deleterious consumerism halts such foolhardy spending. As usual my focused path has become split, and my topic has shifted. What I can offer is my perspective on the manipulated holiday season.
I was wrong initially when I said that this month will be the holiday season. That season, this year started about a month ago- if you were as (unfortunately) intimately involved with the mall you would know that decorations went up weeks ago, orange and black decorations ripped down quickly so that red and white ones may take their place as early as possible. Time has apparently been manipulated and one month of available holiday shopping has (contrary to the laws of physics) turned into two. The fervor that these days brings is unmatched from the start. Lets kick the body of this post off with the obvious: black Friday.
$2 waffle makers bring a group of possibly docile humans into a blood craze. Men have heart attacks, only to be stepped over for the best deals. All while our country is in a recession- or some might say on the verge of a depression. While there are record numbers of homeless, unemployed, and wages have stagnated we(it is impossible to exclude yourself, for reasons explained later) keep spending. Spending more. Black Friday sales were up 16% this year compared to last- spending $52 billion in a day. Anecdotally I know some retailers were up much more. It cannot be logically reasoned why we keep spending when we have less. When reason is excluded from a scenario, I can only think that we are unreasonable. Unreasonable isn’t too harsh sounding when applied to a single consciousness- it could mean untempered, unfaltering. When we apply it to a society of 300 million it becomes much more handicapping. We thwart sane thought, as a society we are insane.
Now, has this been a gradual fall into a darkened mind? A quick drop after millennia? Or is my perspective the one out of line with the majority- and I become the insane in the vastness of the human condition. I have now (nearly) finished the Way of Kings and can remember a passage about sanity (I would give you the quote directly if you can dog ear pages on a nook but technology has ruined my reading experience!) where a character discussed sanity with a creature only he could see. Looking externally you would see a man talking to himself. In their discussion it as mentioned that sanity was more or less voted on by a community. It was never a black pebble for no, white for yes method as the greek democracy used but an unspoken consensus. Has the great majority- voting with their purchases made me the outlier? I have hoped to be proven wrong, but ever subsequent day in retail I find that I am further away from the normal.
I hope I am wrong, and these shopping examples are all just anecdotal- and not indicative of most everyone. Perhaps this time of year isn’t about shopping but it is about family, togetherness and the birth of the Christian Lord. Combined I think of the stereotypical Christmas season, snow flaking delicately down while my childhood self watches out of a frosted window. I draw simple figures in the pane in front of me, breathing humid air to relive a past drawing reverently smiling at my creation. These times are imprinted deep into my mind, but they aren’t because of the holidays but only the time a week without school gave me. The holidays (church especially) were a detraction from my evidentially human musings. Presents then meant everything to me, and my curiosity (and cunning, or my parents inability to hide) found the gifts early the surprise was never the motivation. I can remember opening gifts as any child does, but the memories formed with them are much more vivid. I have already rambled on longer than my last college paper so these experiences and their specifics will have to wait. All I have meant to say is that I hope this reckless consumerism is an attempt to find an ability to form lasting memories.
I’ll pause here and promise you a part two. As retail has extended their holiday season, I shall extend this post.