I WILL GLADLY PAY YOU TUESDAY FOR A HAMBURGER TODAY!
Because my job in the fashion industry involves designing and producing apparel for many U.S. retailers and national brands, I'm always attuned to the economic variables that may affect the retail market.
This week, I read two pieces of information that shocked the shit out of me. First, according to the latest Gallup Poll, Americans expect to spend about $900 on holiday gifts this season. In fact, one-third of adults plan to spend more than $1,000.
At the same time, more Americans will go into debt this year to foot their holiday bills. About 30 percent will pay off their bills within three months. But another 25 percent will take 12 months to pay those bills. Furthermore, the latest reports indicate that the average American has $15,000 of credit card debt!
Now, is it just me or does it seem that our nation's shopping obsession is rapidly filling our homes with a random array of useless shit that will quickly be relegated to our ever-growing basements and landfills? Who really needs all this shit? And why do we feel compelled to constantly buy more of it?
The other day, I was sitting on the toilet, flipping through a few of the 8,000 catalogs that we've received in the mail lately when I realized that there are complete stores filled entirely with useless crap. Does anyone ever really flip through a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog and think to themselves, "You know what would make my life complete? An upside-down tomato garden and a voice-activated R2-D2. Fuck yeah!"
Are there really people out there who pick up a Hickory Farms catalog and think, "Damn, I'll bet Aunt Jess would love this gouda wheel. It's perfect for her. Only $200!"
This is the crap for which we're going into debt?
Look, I get that the desire to collect the most nuts is hard-wired into our inner squirrel. The blindly acquisitive nature of the American consumer probably has its origins in the fact that ours is a country that was founded on debt. Right off the bat, we got ourselves into hock to pay for the Revolutionary War.
However, it never ceases to amaze me that, in the face of supposed political turmoil and worldwide market upheavals, what do an increasing number of us do to assuage our fiscal anxiety? We go out and spend more money---money that we don't even have!
Personally, I'm very fortunate. I have the money to pay off my credit cards at the end of each month---but I choose not to. Why? Because, as Dennis MIller once said, if a killer asteroid obliterates the earth, causing tidal waves and cosmic fires that destroy every trace of life on this planet as we know it, and I still owe three grand on my Visa, I win.
But honestly, is it just me or is this holiday shopping bonanza getting more and more out of control every year?
MERRY BIRTHDAY HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
As I alluded in my last post, BossLady and I have been struggling over how to explain Christmas to the Peanut.
Sadly, my beautiful wife and I are wholly unqualified to have this conversation with a toddler. Being completely immature ourselves, we often celebrate Christmas by singing "Happy birthday, Baby Jesus!" all day long and baking God's only son a special cake heavily doused with rum.
Ideally, I'd like to deemphasize both the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas. Although I struggle with my own faith, I think it's important to try and frame Christmas in terms of the Nativity and the day that Jesus was born. However, at the age of three, the only Jesus whom the Peanut knows is the parking garage attendant down the block. Things could get a little confusing.
If possible, I'd also like to forgo any discussions about Santa. The Peanut is only three-years-old and, as my friend Mimi Smartypants once brilliantly put it, she does not yet need to be concerned about omnipotent mythical father figures making value judgments about her behavior.
So to sum up. No Santa. No religion. And no presents. What's fucking left?
Essentially, I'd like to convey to her that the true spirit of Christmas is love, peace, and good will towards men.
Anyone know how to explain all that to a toddler?
I'm thinking of doing a demonstration with some sock puppets. Or maybe I can find an "Elmo Loves Christmas" DVD. I hate that little red furry bastard but we always find ourselves turning to him to do the real heavy parenting work. Or maybe there's something on youtube?
Anyone got any good ideas? Help a brother out.