Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A retail rant

It's Thanksgiving eve in the U.S., otherwise known as Turkey Day or the day before people who are usually sane lose all sense of reason as they mob the stores in a mad dash to purchase as much crap as possible at "bargain" prices.

Today, I watched my DVR recording of Oprah's Favorite Things show. All I can say is Oh. My. God. I know this show is supposed to whip me into a frenzy and prepare me for a hyooooge binge of shopping on Friday (aka "Black Friday" since retailers hope to turn a big profit -- get in the black, so to speak -- on that, the holy grail of shopping days), but it had quite the opposite effect on me. While the audience swooned, with women practically getting the vapors (they were in Macon, Georgia) as each new gadget, gizmo, treat, or bauble was delivered by Fed Ex "elves," all I could do was roll my eyes. Yes, friends, it was an hour long advertisement -- but then, it is every year.

Maybe it's because I finally reached a saturation point with stuff and have been working with a professional organizer to get rid of much of said stuff in my home. Maybe it's because I just don't have the amount of discretionary income I once did. Or. . . who knows? But all I could do was wonder who really needs to spend $59 for nine cupcakes and how is $150 for a big-ass fashion watch a bargain? And why, oh why does anyone really need a refrigerator with a built-in HDTV, DVD player, digital slide show, and video recipe book in the door? Okay, so the recipe book part is pretty cool, but come on. I really don't see the need to have my refrigerator be Internet-ready. Yes, I suppose it could be cool, but for almost $3,800, I could have a nice fridge full of food and still have a computer, a TV, and a DVD player in the same room. Heck, I can combine the TV/DVR/and computer into one device, get a hyoooge refrigerator, fill it with food, and have change left over!

Of course there are some things on the list that are very useful. I know this because I already own them. I have a KitchenAid mixer,albeit the lower-end model from the one on the list. I love it. A good friend gave it to me for Chrismas several years ago and I use it a lot. In fact, tomorrow I will be using it to knead bread dough for dinner rolls.

Another item I own, although only in boring white, is the set of Melamine mixing bowls. These bowls are seriously nice and at about $32 for a set of three bowls, they're a good deal, too. I've owned mine for at least ten years, probably more.

I love body butter, but don't ever see myself paying $55 for one container of it. Instead, I visit The Body Shop and pick up several of my favorite flavors for around $20 each. If you wait for a sale, you can sometimes get two for that price. Great stuff for dry skin and rough spots like elbows and heels. And The Body Shop is one of the most socially conscious companies around, which is a bonus.

I also own a copy of the Planet Earth series and Oprah's right, it's wonderful and everyone should see it. I found it on sale with a coupon from for around $42 a while back. You can also find it on NetFlix and at your local library. That way, you don't end up with more stuff in your house! :)

Of course books and music are always good, and so is Scrabble. I haven't read The Pillars of the Earth or heard Josh Groban's new CD. I do remember trying to listen to an audio version of Pillars quite a few years back. Never made it very far. For me, it's one of those books that you have to be in the mood for because it goes into a lot of historical detail and character development. I guess I just wasn't in the mood at the time. I'm sure if I started it at the right time I would enjoy it. After all I've read lots of Michener and Rutherford, which are in the same vein. And Josh Groban has a lovely voice, so I'm sure he does the standard Christmas carols proud.


Maybe I'm just getting old. But the massive consumerism that surrounds Christmas just makes me depressed. It gets worse every year. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year. I love decorated houses and carolers and gatherings and people being nice to each other. I love the frosty weather with warm lights, bright colors, and glowing fireplaces inside. I even like the spirit of Santa Claus. But I don't like seeing people feel pressured to try and recreate Norman Rockwell paintings when their family is more like Sanford & Son or the Bundy's (pick the one that works for your generation). And I truly hate the scorecards some people seem to keep, pitting what they're giving against what they're getting as though it were a bidding war for affection. Oh, and retailers started displaying Christmas stuff before Halloween this year. UGH!

For me, it's not about quantity, it's about quality. Quality of time spent with people I love. That's the biggest gift of all. The other thing I really, really enjoy is making gifts for people. I've done that most of my life and the whole process is special to me. I like picking out materials and designs that I think will suit the individual. I enjoy thinking of the person as I choose colors and textures and supplies. And as I make the item, I think of the person and hope that they will like what I'm making. As for receiving, I'm grateful for anything I receive. But if I didn't receive anything but smiles and hugs, I'd be happy with that, too.

And just so this post isn't entirely without knitting content, here's a picture of a completed Koolhaas Hat from the 2007 Holiday Interweave Knits magazine. It's done in Cascade 220 black twead. The pciture doesn't show the stitch pattern very well. Trust me it's like the pattern, only black. :) I hope the recipient will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed knitting it.

Oh, and if you happen to be in the vicinity of Hillsboro, Oregon this weekend, let me know. I'm having a garage sale and some of my stuff could become yours! :)


Little Old Liz said...

Happy Thanksgiving, and a quiet day after to you! I couldn't agree with you more. All the comercials and ads in the paper are a turnoff to buying in excess. Buying, in general! The way I see it, if you wouldn't want to gift me with something at any other time of the year, go ahead and skip Christmas too.

Kathleen said...

I'm with you. I liked it better when the Christmas "season" truly started the day after Thanksgiving and we wouldn't see any decor/commercials/etc. until then. The thing that chaps my hide is how Thanksgiving is kind of getting swept aside. It's a holiday unique to our country but with no gift exchange the marketing machines don't seem very interested. Now, I'm going to try not to trip as I get off my soap box. Happy Thanksgiving!

MonicaPDX said...

You said it, Cindy! And beautifully so. It's always about this time of year I stop watching TV, and it's not just because any shows I'm interested in get interrupted by the holidays. [g] Much better to kick back, relax, and do what you think is important for this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Danielle said...

Happy Thanksgiving!
I couldn't agree more...Around here some malls are opening Thanksgiving night at 12:01am. If not then, around 4-6am. Thanks for sharing. Its so nice to know that I'm not the only one who's completely fed-up with the horribly self-centered consumerism in our country. Merry Christmas season!

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