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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Column: ‘Tis the season

Guess what time of year it is again? Yes, that’s right. It’s shopping season. So dust off your credit cards, put on a pair of comfortable shoes and get ready for some capitalism binging.

In recent years, it seems to me like Black Friday has jostled Thanksgiving and Christmas out of the way to take first place in popularity. What was once the warm and leisurely spirit of the holidays has become a sort of chaotic, material-hoarding affair.

I don’t mean to paint the holidays in pessimistic colors, but if it were not true, then we wouldn’t find long lines of people waiting at 11 a.m. in the freezing cold of November just so they can max out their credit cards on HDTVs and fancy game systems.

Admittedly, I too fall prey to the consumerism culture around this time every year. The sales at the mall lure me in and at midnight on Thanksgiving, I will find myself trapped in the center of a mosh pit pushing, shoving and riding the crowd to reach the sale item of choice.

I wander the mall with gleaming eyes, swearing beneath my breath, with a suspicion of all consumers boiling within my breast. The unlikeliest of peoples could be the very person coming after the very treasure I am after. In this way, I have every incentive to fight anyone who gets in my way.

And this is what humanity has come to. It is a bit ridiculous to witness such uncivil and barbaric behavior displayed at these sales. If any one of the consumers would step outside the box and look at their manners, I have reason to believe that much embarrassment will be felt.

The man rummaging through the bin of 75 percent-off sweaters looks much like a dog digging a hole for his bone – which sometimes makes me wonder how I appear to the outsider during Black Friday.

Greed, gluttony, envy and all the deadliest of sins emerge from the depths of our being when a “Sale” sign goes up on the store window. It’s a bit ironic that such characteristics come to mind during the holidays, when we should be spreading love, care and good cheer.

But, unfortunately, news always pops up every year about a poor consumer being trampled beneath the masses of frantic shoppers, or about moms engaging in UFC-like sparring on the floor of Toys “R” Us just so they can get a Cabbage Patch doll for their child.

As much as the child would appreciate such a gift, I’d like to believe that she would appreciate it much more if her mom was alive for Christmas dinner. So have we forgotten what the holidays are all about?

Shouldn’t we be giving thanks and sharing our generosity? Why then are we wrestling people at the store and shoving our way through the crowds with irritation and anger? I suspect all this pathetic behavior could be attributed to our need to buy the perfect gift.

We risk life and limb to purchase an expensive present thinking that it’ll show how much we care, but in reality, it only shows our superficiality. No matter how expensive or extravagant the item, remember that a gift is nothing more than an object to the receiver unless the giver wraps it in sentimental love and care.

After all, gift-giving should be enjoyable for both the giver and the receiver. It shouldn’t be a duty like we have made it out to be. I find that what makes a gift truly wonderful requires no thought, plan or painstaking effort. It just flows from the heart.

After all, nothing sentimental could ever be found in a price tag or in the gaudiness of a present. What makes a present special is the person who has bestowed it upon us, not the item itself. And, while it is arguable that material things are indeed enjoyable, we should keep in mind that they don’t last forever.

So, this holiday season, instead of holding onto the discounted set of speakers, hold onto your dignity and your family. These things, although not on sale, last a lifetime.

MICHELLE NGUYEN can be reached at michellen1990@yahoo.com.


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