Be nice this holiday; skip the shopping

Jim Lee

Well, Monday starts the last month of this year.
It seems like the year just got started. In a couple of weeks or so I’ll be so tired of the constant repetition of holiday songs I’ll be tempted to sneak bark beetles into Christmas tree lots.
I’m not really a scrooge, but enough is enough.
Remember when the Christmas shopping season started the day after Thanksgiving? That was nice. I recall as a kid right after Thanksgiving watching people put up the Christmas decorations and setting up those displays in the department store windows. Christmas season was special. Maybe it was more special back then because it was only about a month. It wasn’t just an expanding retail snarl of greed and hype.
This year I noticed Christmas displays going up in stores before Halloween! It made me think of rewriting some Santa songs. “’Tis the season for trick-or-treating; fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la, come spend your cash.”
It does have a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? In this case it’s a cash register ring. Wait a minute, cash registers don’t ring anymore, do they? These days we have some gum-chomping post-adolescent with a vacant glare passing merchandise over a scanner. The cash registers don’t even have number keys to ring anything up. And when was the last time somebody counted change backwards like folks used to do, or merchandise had price tags?
After I get done with the bellyaching over commercialization of Christmas, I have to start thinking about what to get people. Frankly, I think the perfect gift for the person who has everything is nothing. That’s the sensible attitude. But things rarely work out in a sensible way. One of the worst feelings in the world is to receive a gift without giving one. This means I have to wrack my brain (or what’s left of it) to figure out what somebody wants, and that other person is probably doing the same thing about me.
Now, that is downright crazy.
Another crazy thing is all the money we spend on toys that get cast aside after about 19 minutes. We brave the long lines at the stores to buy this stuff from the TV commercials for the kids. We spend half the night sweating and cussing because of “some assembly required,” and when the kid unwraps it, he/she plays with the box it came in.
I have a solution. You saw this coming, didn’t you? First, start getting into the Christmas spirit when you decide the time is right, not when the stores decide or the TV commercials begin. Next, tell friends and relatives how you’ll be handling the gift ritual. You’ll take unnecessary stress off yourself and them.
Instead of buying something for somebody, do something especially nice for the person. That’s what the Christmas spirit is all about in the first place. If you need to buy something, get something you need for yourself. Instead of giving in to the hype and the greed of the stores, remember the first syllable of Christmas and make your gift an offering to your church or favorite charity.
The kids? Simple. Be simple and frugal because greed is learned. And teach them about giving, not just taking.
Don’t endure the holiday season, enjoy it.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: