The Skinners

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November 20, 2012
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SKINNERS: 'Tis the season of debt

HE SAID: We are in that time of year that makes me want to flee the country. Even before the political calls stopped, the explosion of Christmas ads hit; then we are caught up in the hype of Black Friday "deals." Haven't we gone too far when the Christmas ads start before Halloween? The frantic holiday shopping is being further expanded by those stores making their employees work on Thanksgiving and Christmas to sell even more.

SHE SAID: Can you believe that some people camped out before Thanksgiving to be first in line for Black Friday? The stores used to close on Thanksgiving and Christmas to allow people to be with their families. Looks like people would rather shop than spend time with loved ones. I guess nothing is sacred any more.

I am really sick of the plethora of ads that run with each show on commercial television. It seems at least half of every hour is commercials now. It just adds to the hype, especially in young, gullible minds.

Our daughter, who was visiting recently from France, pronounced American television "horrible," not because of the programming, but the ads. She says promos have really escalated from when she was last here and watched. If we all would honor these two days of peace and rest and not go to the stores, they would not open. Besides, you can always shop the internet if you just cannot stay away.

Most of my Christmas money is going to local nonprofits, individuals, and other organizations who help those who need the basics, just not another electronic gadget for a relative. It will also go to support local artisans and others who make life more satisfying.

HE SAID: The issue is that those who run the economy want us to spend, spend, and spend so we infuse growth into our economy. If you can sell more at a lesser price, you still make money. Unfortunately, that leads more of us into further debt, especially credit card debt. The trillions in government debt are significantly less than the combined private debt in this country for mortgages, credit cards and business. Why worry about government debt when we let credit companies pick our pockets for much more? Private debt is enslaving millions but is being ignored by the politicians. The 1930s depression taught many people to avoid debt, but those lessons have not been carried to the Google generation.

Dangling bargains in front of people at the holiday season can only further debt. It can only make life more difficult in January, and it can only make it worse if we lose a job. More material things in the house don't help at all in these situations. Do our children really remember the remote control car or doll? Or will they be more apt to remember and appreciate the times you attended their sports event, or held them when they were sad, or when you gave them material and mental support in a difficult time? There are some studies that have found that we focus on the material rewards because they are more immediate, but we do so at the loss of the relationships. Maybe instead of standing in line for bargains, we should take the family for a walk together.

SHE SAID: It is interesting to remember how we felt about this issue when the children were young. I bought them a lot at Christmas because my family's holiday was often austere. On the other hand, the kids still joke that I always gave them underwear for their present. I did try to get meaningful gifts that were educational, weren't too frivolous, or that were basic needs. It is hard to find meaningful gifts for people you do not see very often. It's much harder to give time and effort to someone.

HE SAID: Yes, we did spend a lot more at Christmas. Even buying items on deep discount it still took months to pay the bills. It's hard not to get infected by the fever. I received a mailer about the Black Friday sale at Bass World and started wondering if they had the lures I needed so I could stock up more extras to replace those the weeds ate. Seems like I am just another cog in the American economy.

SHE SAID: Ah yes, at least some shopping is alluring for you or has you hooked or...!

The Skinners hope your life has less mania and more meaning this holiday season. They can be reached at jlajtls@bresnan.net.


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 20, 2012 02:11PM Published Nov 20, 2012 02:07PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.