So I find myself swept up into the early holiday season where Thanksgiving serves as a dry run for Christmas. I made it through the August, “Christmas is just 8 billion days away” campaign (people I’m a writer not a math major). I didn’t buy anything that was holiday related. I made faces and agreed with the older ladies that it wasn’t even Halloween yet. I refused to let the voice in my head hum to any Christmas music. I even forbade my three year old from singing “Jingle Bells” – which only encouraged him more.
And then Halloween passed——- and now I’m preparing not for Turkey and pumpkin pie, but for — who should we invite for Christmas and when should I bake my famous Sticky Toffee Pudding? I reason with myself that, Thanksgiving is really late this year and if I’m going to go through the effort of decking the hell out of house, then by golly, I want more than four measly weeks of enjoyment.
Then I attempt to convince myself that this mad rush of holiday spirit is simply because I love Christmas and is in no way an indication that I’ve been corrupted by marketing – because I am definitely smarter than all of that!
And so when I shop online and order a gift from my sister-in-law and—ohhhhhhhh – those shoes are really, REALLY cute and totally on sale and seriously, I need burnt orange– well I know without any tiny splinter of doubt, that it isn’t marketing factoring in. No big corporations are not playing a role in the fact that most people like giving (to themselves) or that most profit increases during the holiday season are not in fact gift-buying but consumers taking advantage of sales for their own benefit. No.
What’s really happening is that I’m negotiating. I’m either finding a practical reason for my purchase, rewarding myself for all the things no one else rewards me with, or even more dangerously — because I deserve it. I bought those wellies from England with little jumping horses on them because if there was ever a zombie outbreak, my feet would be safe for maneuvering through swamps (practicality). I purchased a new handbag because I remained polite and professional in the face of dealing with a difficult client (reward). I deserve a new tiny computer because I’m a WRITER dammit and how will all of you read my great posts and novels if I don’t have a new laptop that weighs less than a notebook (just because I’m me)? They are all very valid arguments and I swear they make sense as I hit the “Submit Your Order” button time and time again.
It’s absolute reasoning (with the complete absence of reasoning).
Advertisers know how we think. They study us. They’re watching you right now!
It’s clear that I’m way too smart for all of their tactics (like those websites that tell you how many items are left in stock in your size). And if I seem full of it — you’ve got me. These advertisers are smart — SMART (yup in caps). Even when I’m aware of what it is they’re trying to do, I still give in because how do you fight a system that has this much power? I can stand back and look at all this with an air of superiority and this notion that I can rise above this. Heck. I can move up to Maine (maybe VT) and live off the land. I won’t even need to buy new boots (because I already own wellies)!
But when my son watches commercials on tv, he shouts “Mama, I love it so much! Maybe for Christmas?” — it’s then that I realize in all of my vigilance — it’s too late. We’re all already infected. They get to us at a young age, while our parents are in the kitchen cooking dinner. They seep into our bloodstreams and they convince us that what we have isn’t enough.
…Or maybe, this holiday season, I can reclaim my focus (if I could paint you a picture of me reclaiming anything I would be wearing a magnificent sleeveless ballgown –red and green like a goddess of the holiday season– a giant staff raised above my head and “We’re Not Gonna Take it” played by violins while my long curly, red hair waves in the wind of fury and determination –and no my hair isn’t that long — but that’s really irrelevant). Maybe there are little reindeer and primitive evergreens embroidered on the bodice — but I digress…
My point is peeps, we haven’t eaten our turkey yet! Carpe Diem — there is still time. Maybe it doesn’t even matter if “The Man” knows that I am boycotting him, rejecting his tug to ruin my holidays, quietly disagreeing with His attempt to make me (or my son) pawns of mass consumption. He might not notice that I’m not shopping in his store on Thanksgiving OR Black Friday. That I will try and support a small business whenever possible — even if it costs me a few dollars more. Who knows, maybe I’ll set a budget and stick to it — deciding that my love counts for itself and there is no point in trying to spend more money to prove it. I might stop gratifying myself with unnecessary purchases. Maybe, I’ll bake cookies with my son and give those out as gifts. Maybe watch holiday movies cuddled on the sofa with the husband and the dog while we have a fire in our little wood burning stove. I might become a more conscious consumer and only spend where customers are valued and practices are ethical. I could save some of that money and instead of buying more “things” I could use it for something I actually want (like a little cabin the woods). Maybe, I’ll even send out Christmas cards to people I care about and don’t see often enough.
Anything might be possible if you stop focusing on not having enough and start being aware that what you have is– everything…
FYI — I am 100% available for hire to write greeting cards and or fortune cookies.