'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
O TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY AND STUFF
Today is Black Friday, the official start of the Christmas shopping season. The unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season occurred, at least in the minds of department store managers, in September, right after the “Back to School” sale ended.
The following conversation took place many times last month in retail outlets. Shopper: “Excuse me, where can I find the Halloween candy?” Store employee: “Right down this aisle, ma’am, just past our Winter Wonderland display of Christmas trees.”
Because of the lousy economy and high unemployment rate, people have far less money these days. Ironically, at this time in history when we have so little money to spend, we are being told it is our patriotic duty to boost the economy by spending a lot of money during the holidays.
Let me see if I have this straight. The economy stinks because large corporations and government operations made foolish financial decisions, spending money recklessly and going deep into debt. So the solution to this problem is for individual citizens to spend money recklessly and go deep into debt? Hmm, I guess it takes a Ph.D. in Economics to grasp that logic.
Most people are convinced they must spend a lot during the holidays. And if they don’t have actual money, they are obligated to use fake money, in the form of credit card purchases. As a culture, our materialistic practices during Christmas are completely disconnected from the original religious meaning of the holiday. On the other hand, we are so Bible illiterate nowadays, it’s just a matter of time before some clever marketing department offers this advertising campaign: “The true meaning of Christmas is right in the Bible: ‘Thou shalt shop till thy drop!’ (Luke 2:53).”
Many folks will hear this and say, “How come my pastor never preached on that verse? C’mon, let’s make the baby Jesus happy and go to the mall!”
The main problem is that we refer to this time of year as the Christmas “shopping” season, as if the whole point of this sacred holiday is to buy things. We need to change our thinking from the Christmas “shopping” season to the Christmas “gift-giving” season.
What’s the difference, you ask? Well, back in ancient times, way before iPods and video games, way before Facebook and YouTube, people often had little money, but they had creative skills. If they couldn’t afford to buy Christmas gifts, they would make them. Women knitted sweaters. Men carved toys out of wood.
Now we once again have little money, and as everyone knows, all of our creative skills have been shipped overseas. But we do have something in abundance that will solve the problem. We have stuff. Oh yes, we are up to our eyeballs in stuff. The average U.S. home is bursting at the seams with stuff.
Instead of visiting the mall this holiday season, visit your attic, your basement, and your garage. Explore the far reaches of your kitchen cabinets, your clothes closets, and your DVD racks. There is a veritable treasure trove awaiting you. Many expensive items have never been used. Others have been used only once or twice.
The typical American already owns enough valuable stuff to take care of the next 10 Christmas seasons. The only expense will be a modest outlay for wrapping paper and bows.
Is this plan unpatriotic? Only if being swamped in credit card debt is considered a good thing. Besides, the Bible tells us the true meaning of this season: “And the angel of the Lord proclaimed, ‘Thou shalt not max-out thy VISA card!’” (Matthew 1:26.)
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