From Black Friday, and now even on Thanksgiving Day, we are besieged with special sales, marketing promotions and pleasing eye-catchers about the next greatest Christmas gift ever. The campaign continues into post-Christmas sales as the year ends and then even more retail opportunities surrounding New Year’s.
Some see it as a revolving door, ever turning and forever in motion.
At the risk of being labeled a Scrooge by discount-happy consumers, we agree that marketing campaigns — radio, television, Internet, social media and yes, newspapers too — can sometimes distract from the true spirit of the season. It is a fact of life. It is the inconvenient truth of the holidays. But the truth is, businesses must survive.
As the U.S. economy continues its slow rebound, retailers keep their fingers crossed that this will be the year of the great turnaround. For their sake, we share their hope.
Yet, several days ago in the mail we received a “Letter to the Editor” that approached this commercialism of Christmas from two perspectives.
One, in no uncertain terms it attacked the accounting side of the holiday and suggested — quite strongly, we might add — that too many companies with big money are simply trying to make more big money.
And two, the letter offered suggestions — not on how to flip this trend of commercialism, but on how to reduce its fever. The letter came to us from Jennifer Haney, a biologist employed by Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia. She lives in Farner, a tiny unincorporated community in Polk County a few miles north of Ducktown. She is the mother of five.
Her letter is printed in full on this page, but we so liked some of her ideas on buying that we wanted to share a few editorially. Her thoughts focus on community, gift relevance and humanitarian need.
These are Jennifer’s words:
1. Buy local goods: “These are usually smaller business people and often the ingredients from the products have not been shipped from China. This saves on environmental costs of transport and keeps our money local.”
2. Buy things that are not things but still fun: “This can be movie theater passes, restaurant gift certificates, massages, ice skating rink tickets, driving range coupons, concert tickets or any event/activity that the receiver would enjoy. This also extends the euphoria of Christmas gift getting because even after Christmas you have something to look forward to.”
3. Pay a loved one’s bill or buy groceries for the month: “One of my sons was struggling through school and working like a dog. He needed a good car to get to work so he bought one at a buy-here-pay-here. This was great that he was able to do this, but also very expensive for him. One year for Christmas, I paid his car payment. He could not have been more surprised or happy to find at Christmastime he had no car payment and a little extra money.”
4. Buy educational classes: “This can be any class the recipient would enjoy, but would otherwise not have spent the money on themselves.” (Ideas include painting, pottery, musical instrument lessons, dance, karate and yoga.)
5. Donate for others: “... For the people who always wished they could do more for society, but have never found the time nor money, donate to a charity that they would support. Many charities promote ‘financially adopting’ such as sponsoring a child or an animal or planting a tree.”
Only six days remain before Christmas. For any last-minute shoppers, the above list can be helpful; but in the long term, and we believe this to be the writer’s intent, the ideas expressed can be life-changing if extended into the next Yuletide season.
We thank Jennifer for her thoughts; and again, we refer our readers to her full submission which is printed as a “Letter to the Editor” on this page.
Obviously, not everyone will agree. It is their right. But many will.
This Farner resident makes some good points. While some are more practical than others, all are worthy of consideration.
We encourage an open mind and a willing heart by all who read her words.