Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"The Holidays"

I dread the holidays.  My personal reasons affect my view of this time of year, of course, but I've also noted with each passing year that in America we no longer focus our celebrations on the meaning behind each of the holidays but on buying things.  This makes the companies selling those things extremely happy, of course, because then their financial statements will look better at the end of their fiscal years.  They love making money and raking in the profit.  But isn't it really like one of those infuriating loops? 

We work to earn money in order to be able to live comfortably, i.e. pay for shelter, food, clothing, transportation, education and such.  Supposedly, the harder we work and the more productive we are, the more money we make (Ha!  Not necessarily true today).  The more money we make, the more we can afford to buy.  The more money we make, the more money we want.  Those who work their ways up the corporate ladder become the executives at the top who forget what the holidays are really about and focus only on making money.

Is money bad?  Money in and of itself has no meaning.  Humans down through the centuries have given money meaning, first as an instrument of exchange followed by an instrument of power and influence.  Having a lot of money can be a burden.  Just ask all the lottery winners who won millions of dollars all at once.  We have another ginormous jackpot that the American people lust for today.  I'm hoping that at least ten people win it so no one person walks away with hundreds of millions.  Then I was thinking this morning: I wonder if cash-strapped schools or churches ever buy lottery tickets?  They'd certainly deserve to win.  Or charities.  What a lovely way to celebrate Christmas, the holiday of giving, for them!

I understand the lust for the money.  Who wouldn't want the wealth?  I would.  I know exactly what I'd do with it, too.  First, I'd split it in half and use half to establish a foundation that would give grants to struggling writers (like me), donate to my favorite charities and medical research, and support classical music.  The other half would be for me to pay off debt; move to a larger apartment (I have no desire to own a house or condo) preferably in a building with an elevator, a concierge and underground parking; establish an account with a limo service; hire a housekeeper; hire a personal trainer; and establish a medical account.  Would I help out friends?  On an individual case basis and only one-time gifts.  I'm not interested in acquiring financial dependents.  Oh, and I think I'd finally get my allergies treated so that I could have a couple cats to keep me company and entertain me.  I also know that to do all this with that ginormous jackpot I'd need to hire a lawyer, accountant, and investment adviser, especially to run the foundation (although I'd be pretty hands-on with that, too).  I would not stop writing, either, but have more time to write more, I think, and have the money to self-publish or create my own publishing company.

But the holiday season is not about winning lottery jackpots.  It's not about buying the most presents or getting that 50-inch plasma TV to hang on the wall.  Money has taken over the holidays and we've done it to ourselves.  We can undo it, if we want.

Companies claim that they opened on Thanksgiving because that's what their customers wanted.  No, their customers wanted more doorbusters and a chance to win more.  They wanted more deals.  The companies, frankly, could open one hour earlier on Black Friday and close one hour later and still accomplish the same thing.  They could make it a "Black Weekend" by opening one hour earlier on Saturday and Sunday, too, and closing one hour later.  Doorbuster deals could be spread out over the day, giving more people a chance to win.  They could still have their big sales and amazing deals.  In other words, there really is absolutely no reason to open on Thanksgiving, or even have any employees come in to work to prepare for Friday.  That preparation could be done the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

Why does Black Friday exist?  For Christmas shopping.  There's another holiday that has turned into a materialistic celebration of Capitalism.  Does anyone remember why gifts are given on Christmas?  During the last ten years, as I've dealt with serious health issues, I've discovered that I'd much rather spend time with my friends during the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's, then spend the holidays quietly, at home, treating myself to what's most important -- life and the people important to me. 

We need to stop living to make money and acquire things, and start living to live, experience and learn.  Right now we're stuck in that money loop of our own creation.  Since we created it, we can change it.  But we all need to agree to change it and work together to do it.  Are we ready for such an undertaking?  I don't think so.  It would take a lot of strength, courage, and determination, and Greed is powerful.....

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