I’m Forfeiting My Holiday Spirit This Year So I Can Enjoy The Goddamn Holidays

BlackFridayMacys

Few things test my faith in humanity like watching footage of people shopping on Black Friday. Only twelve hours before, or in some cases, minutes as many stores are now open at fucking 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving (!) I was looking at my Facebook feed which showed one person after another proclaiming how blessed and grateful they were for x, y and z and then in the blink of an eye, a number of those same people are down at the local mall, clawing someone’s eyes out to get to a set of queen sized, 1000 thread count, Egyption sheets. Call me crazy, but this seems like the height of hipocrosy. Spending eight seconds crafting a social media message informing everyone of how much you appreciate your fellow man, only to turn around and sell him out for an Xbox, doesn’t seem much like keeping in the holiday spirit.

Unless that’s exactly what it is.

Seeing as the holiday season is now effectively one big shopping smorgasbord designed to help retailers boost their bottom lines before the new year, perhaps shopping the shit out of every store you can push your way into and destroying anyone in your path, is the very embodiment of the holiday spirit. Which is why as much as I love the holidays, the actual season can be hard to stomach thanks to of all the crap we’re driven to buy.

I mean think about it. Every year we all complain about how Christmas music starts playing in department stores the day after Halloween, yet every year it still happens. There’s a reason for this. It’s because people are more likely to begin Christmas shopping if there’s festive music to accompany their excursion.  However, the stores wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. So if you really want to curb the crooning of Jingle Bells when searching for your Thanksgiving turkey, you can send a message by shopping at stores that aren’t all cracked out on Christmas carols. But good luck finding one.

Watching TV is even worse. Yesterday, on a number of occasions, my stepmother and I were continually repulsed by this one commercial that kept playing over and over again. I don’t even remember which store it was for but it featured a number of Christmas carolers in a kitchen, wearing Santa hats, singing “Shop shop shop shop, shop shop shop shop.”

Like, ew!

Stop telling me to “shop shop shop shop”. I don’t want to! And I don’t want finding a deal on bread makers to be what my holiday is all about. One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving is because it’s a time of year where you get to be with your family but the pressure of showing up with a bunch of stuff to hand out to them isn’t there. Not to say that I don’t enjoy getting or giving presents, I do, but the stress of shopping for them is overwhelming. Go into a Macy’s anywhere from November through December and it’s like being in a casino in the North Pole, with the sounds of cash registers going off like slot machines and tree lights and ornaments flashing like jackpot sirens. It’s enough to put you off Christmas all together and I like Christmas! I don’t want to have some negatively charged, Pavlovian response to the idea of it but with its insanely over-marketed nature, that’s exactly what’s happening.

And we live in a country where the manipulative practices of product lines and department stores are primed to be second to none. America is a place where people engage in “retail therapy” and being a shopoholic is like an actual thing that exists. A condition where a person can’t stop themselves from buying shit. What better place for major retailers to prey on the weaknesses of people constantly on the brink of maxing out their credit cards, than one where you can disguise it as their holiday duty to do so?

Between the increasingly hyped extravaganzas that are Black Friday and the holiday shopping season, having “holiday spirit” means morphing into some kind of zombie who instead of brains, craves barcaloungers. That’s why this year I’m forfeiting mine.

To be honest, it’s not that much of a sacrifice for me. I hate shopping to begin with, so it’s not like I’m giving it up purely for the altruistic purposes of remembering what the holidays are really about. If you’re someone who genuinely enjoys finding a deal or the type of person who gets a rush off of savings, then who am I to stop you during the Superbowl of such activities? But if you’re like me and looking for a way to enjoy the festivities without falling victim to all of the crap you’re supposed to be hoarding before it goes back to regular price, think about having experiences instead of expenses.

For Christmas this year I’m going to focus on gifting people with things we can do together instead of crap I can buy at a store (get excited Rheel family!) that way when everyone is at the mall, battling the crush of consumers reveling in the holiday spirit, I’ll be cruising Central Park, bathed in a bounty of multicolored lights, with a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, enjoying that most special time of year, which is New York City in the winter.

  • texast

    I agree 100%. I’ve been unemployed for 6 months (my choice) so everyone is telling me not to get them presents this year, which is kind of nice. It really takes the pressure off and has changed my perspective a bit since I’ve told people not to buy me anything as well. Once you take the gift part out of the holiday equation, you can focus more on the real spirit of the holidays.

    • RheelDaze

      For sure! I agree and I also forgot that I am currently unemployed and that’s yet another reason I shouldn’t be out there flexing my credit. For the last couple of years my parents have paid for my plane ticket to accompany them to Puerto Rico and then I’ll pay for an excursion while we’re there. I’ve always preferred that to something like a flat screen or a bunch of sweaters I’ll probably never wear.

  • http://muchtomydelight.com/ Jenn from much to my delight

    The more posts of yours I read, the more I really like you. This is a very nice perspective today and I agree 100%, especially about sharing experiences instead of gifts that will easily be forgotten a week later. PS: That commercial is for JC Penney, and it makes me homicidal. Happy holidays!!!!!!!

    • RheelDaze

      I was actually in the middle of writing this post when I popped over to your site and saw your wallet friendly ideas and it made me feel so much better about what I was writing. I loved the “Hang out with a kid” suggestion. So simple and so effective. And I thought the commercial was for JC Penny I just couldn’t find it online when I went looking for it. Horrible. It was stuck in my head the whole ride out to my mother’s house yesterday.

  • La Maman Heureuse

    Love this post, totally agree with your view. Luckily here in Belgium it’s not so bad, but I still share the same opinion. We have two holidays close together for kids (no Thanksgiving here), and I’m so tired of buying lots of stuff for my little one. She doesn’t need all that stuff, she needs love and time. We’re not buying her any toys, but want to give her memories and experiences.

    For her birthday, we took her to see the play of her favourite tv-show and she still talks about that day. I just wish the grandparents shared our opinion. I told them she doesn’t need it, but she would like spending more time with them. They don’t get it. Just hope my little girl understands it better than they do!

    And for myself, this year I’m not buying any presents for other people nor do I want anything from someone. It’s not what I need. Instead I’m trying to make a difference in other ways!

    Happy Holidays!

    • RheelDaze

      I’m thinking about doing tickets to things this year. There is this one play that I want to go to and maybe some restaurants even. I would take good food and drinks over socks any day. Cheers!

  • http://www.wanderlyn.com/ Eternally WanderLyn

    I’m in complete agreement! That’s why this year I’m thinking of making the majority of the gifts I plan to give to people (ie. a blanket with their name on it). That way it’s more personal and less ‘I went prowling for this gift and fought off the other predators.” I completely avoided all the Black Friday stuff. People be crazy! I just keep watching all the commercials and thinking, “when did Christmas become all about the Ipads and TV’s?” and less about the time you spend with family. I mean, do you really need to spend hundreds of dollars on a gift to show someone how much you care? How about just spending time with them or giving them something more meaningful?

    • RheelDaze

      Yes! My Aunt Nicole always makes the coolest gifts and I appreciate them so much. She completely wears herself out, but they’re things I’ll have a lot longer than the stuff she would have bought me in a store.

  • http://voyageofthemeemee.blogspot.com/ Amanda MeeMee

    I have to admit that I love shopping… but I will NEVER do the Black Friday thing again, and I haven’t in years. I do love the idea of gifting something that you can do together though… those are always the most memorable anyway! :)

  • http://www.adashofquirky.com/ Anna Sinclair

    I’ve honestly never understood Black Friday. Never gone, never will. When people are literally dying just to try to buy things, it’s gone too far. It was awful to begin with though in my opinion.

    I’m also taking the simpler route with gifts… it’s so much better that way!

  • Awesomely Over-Zealous

    Lol I agree with this, for my bf’s birthday (the man who has it all -they’re simple creatures you know) I gave him a trip zip-lining in WV. Best time of his life. I think if you know someone honestly NEEDS something, then you should give if you’re able – however, if those around you don’t need anything than the gesture of time or an activity is more suitable. I love to go to the Mall during black Friday to people watch: watch them become animals and look ridiculous waiting in a line that takes up half the mall at H&M for a 40% discount off your purchase.. get outta here! This year my son is the only one getting anything and that’s because he’s been a great kid this year so he’s earned a little reward but it won’t be anything major. Everyone else will receive get the same gift I receive from my mom every year: a hug + kiss. Have a great one Kelly! -Iva

  • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com/ stephanie court

    I am so with you on all of this. The husband and I have decided we’re not going to give each other gifts for Christmas this year (and possibly not at all in future years – we’ve been talking about saving $ and giving each other “experiences” instead like little weekend getaways together) and we’re keeping family gifts to either homemade or local shops/etsy purchases. Hearing some stores were opening at 6PM on Thanksgiving – when many families are sitting down for dinner (or dinner number 2 if you’re my family) just made me sick. I’m actually a little concerned the next generation of kids will really believe “getting in the Christmas spirit” truly means “shopping and buying as much as possible.” Sad.

  • Michelle

    I hope that doesn’t mean I won’t be receiving a Chrsitmas card from you
    this year as well! I do so enjoy spending a few hours trying to figure
    them out every year. On another note, can I use your blog to put a
    special request out to people who post on facebook the stupiest shit
    that nobody cares about?? “Happy Annivarsary honey, it’s been the best
    ten years of my life?” I mean..WTF? After ten years of marriage, can
    you not TELL the person that face to face?! OR..Here’s a pic of my kid
    at 1 year old. Oh..here’s a pic of my same kid, 1 years old and 4
    days. Lastly, here’s a pic of my kid 1 year old and 26 days. GOOD LAWD
    PEOPLE! Nobody gives a shit. I have two kids, shoot me if I ever do
    this.

    • RheelDaze

      I was actually working on a post precisely about what you’re talking about. I can’t stand the ones that start off “Three years ago on this day…” and then they go off about getting married or having a kid. Your three year old can’t read that shit! I also receive reports about pet surgeries and sales. Oh! My favorite was one who posted about his friend dying the other day and went on this long diatribe about how much he appreciated the guy and then hash tagged the end of it with #sleepfaster. Hash tagged!!

  • Amber

    Thank you for acknowledging the irony and hypocrisy that saturates the 48 hours encompassing Thanksgiving and Black Friday. And this is such a good description of what the lead up to Christmas can easily become. All the bread makers and Christmas shopping stress can so easily eclipse the good things about this time of year. “Experiences over expenses!” is going to be my new motto this holiday season. Thank you for this.

    • RheelDaze

      We’re on the same page woman.