Posts Tagged ‘Christmas shopping’

Husbands and wives as last-minute shoppers

December 13, 2015


For details, go to The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Hat tip to Kevin Drum.

C.S. Lewis on the varied meanings of Christmas

December 16, 2013

C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, wrote in 1957 that the holiday we call Christmas and celebrate on Dec. 25 is really three holidays in one.

GodInTheDockThree things go by the name of Christmas.  One is a religious festival.  This is important and obligatory for Christians, but … it can be of no interest to anyone else …

The second … is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality.  If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say I much approve of merry-making.  But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. …

But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everybody’s business.  I mean of course the commercial racket.

The idea that everybody is obligated to buy presents for all their friends, and buy cards to send to all their loved ones, friends and acquaintances, is a contemporary idea and not part of the historical idea of Christmas, Lewis wrote.  He condemned the commercial Christmas holiday on the following grounds.

1.  It gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You only have to say over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare.  Long before December 25th everyone is worn out—physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think of suitable gifts for them.  They are in no trim for merry-making, much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act.  They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.

Christmas-Shopping-Fever-22.  Most of it is involuntary.  The modern rule is that anyone can force you to give him a present by sending you a quite unprovoked present of his own.  It is almost a blackmail.  Who has not heard the wail of despair, and indeed of resentment, when, at the last moment, just as everyone hoped that the nuisance was over for one more year, the unwanted gift from Mrs. Busy (whom we can hardly remember) flops un-welcomed through the letter-box and back to the dreadful shops one of us has to go?

3.  Things are given as presents which no mortal has ever bought for himself — gaudy and useless gadgets, ‘novelties’ because nobody was ever fool enough to make their like before.  Have we really no better use for materials and for human skill and time than the spend them on all this rubbish?

4.  The nuisanceFor after all, during the racket we still have our ordinary and necessary shopping to do, and the racket trebles the labor of it.

Lewis wrote that if the Christmas shopping season is necessary to keep the retail stores in business, he would sooner give them the money for nothing and write it off as a charity.


Black Friday is crowding out Thanksgiving holiday

November 28, 2013


Black Friday is an economic arms race that benefits nobody—neither retailers nor shoppers.  Now, as the chart above shows, it is crowding out the traditional American Thanksgiving holiday.

Historically the big retail chain stores have opened earlier and earlier the day after Thanksgiving so as to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.   Christmas shoppers stand in line before the store opening to gain a competitive advantage in finding bargains.  I don’t in the least criticize people with tight budgets for doing this.

Retailers, shoppers and store employees would all be better off if there was a law, or a legal means of reaching a mutual agreement, for retail chains to close early on Thanksgiving and open no earlier than 8 a.m. the day after.   Meanwhile those of us Americans who can afford to do so can vote with our dollars for companies such as Costco, Nordstrom, TJ Maxx and BJ’s Wholesale Club that allow their employees to enjoy a Thanksgiving holiday, even if they give up some sales dollars to do so.


If the world is going to end Dec. 21, 2012… …

December 3, 2012


Hat tips for this to Bill Elwell and Joy Leccese.


Upton Sinclair on Christmas shopping

November 24, 2012

The above video shows Wal-Mart customers fighting over telephones that were on sale Friday with the start of the Christmas shopping season.  They probably weren’t typical, but neither were they unusual.  Click on Wal-Mart’s Black Friday 2012 for more examples.  I don’t know who coined the term “Black Friday” for the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, but I’m sure it must have been a department store employee.

Long before there were Black Friday sales, the reformer Upton Sinclair had this to say about the shopping season.

Sinclair, Upton_Beall_Jr

Upton Sinclair

Many friends of mine regard the Christmas season as, not exactly an ordeal but a stressful time they have to get through, rather than a time of rejoicing, let along a Christian religious feast.  What went wrong?  Was it when Santa Claus and his presents displaced the baby Jesus in the manger as the central Christmas figure?

Or is there something about Black Friday and the Christmas shopping scene that I misunderstand?


The spirit of Christmas economic stimulus

December 2, 2011

Double click to enlarge

Click on Candorville for more like this.