Cashmere, Credit Cards And Chestnuts
By Michael Coscia
Nov 1, 2003 - 4:46:00 PM
LOS ANGELES — November marks the start of the holiday season and with it comes bah humbug or fa la la la la.
Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
This year I am trying very hard to embrace the joy of the season, which has become extremely fragile over the past few years. We need to get back to the true meaning of the holidays: love. Gifts should be given to people you really care about, not people you want to impress (though we are all guilty of that).
Unfortunately the media seduces us with images of sparkling diamonds, expensive cashmere sweaters, the latest high-tech gizmos, and gadgets galore. Retail sales, television commercials, spam e-mails, billboards, annoying Internet pop-up ads, and everything else assault us with all this stuff. Stuff manufactured to lure us into thinking we could not live another moment without one of these precious items.
We embrace the manipulations with all the gusto we can muster. Gotta have it now!
It never fails that the evening news every year reports the tale of Petite Soccer Mom Claudine attacking Car Pool Mom Pauline and wrestling for that last toy on the shelf. Images of hysterical moms, fistfuls of hair extensions, and broken straps on fake Gucci bags are comical but knowing it does happen makes it quite sad. How materialistic are we? What kind of example are we setting for our children?
Remember the Pet Rock? How about Rubik's Cube? And don't forget Cabbage Patch dolls, Beanie Babies, and, my favorite, the Furby. They created hysteria among consumers and for what? So they could end up in a drawer where they remain forever, never to be fondled again.
"This can be yours for 12 monthly payments of $19.95!" How can you resist that? You just won't be hip or happening if you're not first in your neighborhood to lay claim to owning one of these unique treasures. But wake up! They're not unique at all. There are millions manufactured. Once sales falter they will disappear and never be seen again until VH-1 features them on one of their nostalgia shows.
Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
A month after you charge your credit cards to their limit ask people if they remember who gave what to whom. It's like asking who won Best Actress or Best Picture at last year's Oscars. No one seems to remember.
But rest assured that Visa, MasterCard, and American Express love you, they really love you. Well, maybe not you, but certainly all those finance charges they heap onto your monthly statements. They certainly do add up. Ouch! That beautiful one-of-a-kind cashmere sweater you bought on sale may end up costing you twice as much by the time you pay off your credit card debt.
We're placing value on what holidays have become rather than what they should be. How sad that an expensive cashmere sweater gift means you love someone more than giving a gift of holiday cookies you baked yourself.
One of the best presents I ever received was from my little niece. She was seven years old when she bought me a level, yes a level, at her grammar school store. She was so proud giving it to me that I was brought to tears. It was given out of love, rather than obligation and price tag concern. I treasure that level.
Does incurring debt sound all that enticing this year? If it does then by all means go and max those credit cards. If not, then why not find a simpler, more meaningful way to acknowledge your loved ones?
How about foregoing gifts altogether and everyone doing some volunteer work? I know Project Angel Food could use help preparing food and delivering it to men, women, and children disabled by HIV/AIDS. Please give them a call at 323-845-1816. The joy of helping others will last a lifetime.
This Thanksgiving as you savor the scent of turkey, pumpkin, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire promise yourself you'll step into the true meaning of the holidays. Forget about that cashmere sweater (one gravy spill and it's stained forever). Forget about maxing out that credit card(s) (bankruptcy isn't pretty).
Encourage everyone to join together and make it a fa la la la la holiday season full of love, not consumer goods. That's what I'm doing.
And to get in the holiday spirit I've got a few holiday decorations to hang on the wall. Gonna use my level to make sure I hang them evenly.
It really is the thought that matters.
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