Is Holiday Shopping and Gift-giving Out of Control?

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Do you ever think that holiday shopping and gift-giving has gotten way out of control?

This year on Black Friday, according to CNN,  American shoppers spent a record $5 billion in 24 hours. That marks a 16.9% increase in dollars spent online compared with Black Friday 2016.

On Cyber Monday U.S. shoppers spent about $7.9 billion up 19.7 percent over last year.

That’s great news for the stores and online sellers. But how much of that was put on credit cards that were then maxed out? How many people will have to default because they can’t afford to pay for all the things they purchased?

Three weeks to go

And we still have over three weeks to go. The shopping spree continues and sometimes you hear things about what you should buy that can surprise even the “veteran shoppers.”

Sunday I decided to see what they were selling on the shopping channels on TV. All kinds of things were being sold, but one channel was selling some higher priced handbags. I watched as a few were carefully described, all the colors shown and the compartments on the inside were demonstrated. After a few were fully described the last purse was on the table—the top-of-the-line. The sellers gushed, something like, “If you can’t afford this purse, we’ve made it possible for you to get a loan. You must have it.”

Excuse me. Take out a loan so I can have a purse? Are you kidding me?

What have we come to?

Is this what “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” has come to mean?

Actually, Christmas, for Christians, is about the birth of Christ. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. And Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved (“good” or “nice”) children on Christmas.

Nowhere do we find that the holidays are a time to “shop” ‘till you drop” and spend until you’re bankrupt to give children and adults things they don’t want and/or don’t need so we can be the loving, generous parent, spouse or friend.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love giving and receiving gifts and the gathering of the clan with all the food and fun.

I’m just saying that it’s time to take a hard look and where we’ve come. It’s time to consider how much is enough and how much is too much?

Time for reflection

Take some time to reflect on the questions:

  • What do the holidays mean to me?
  • Does Christmas or Hanukkah have a special spiritual message for me personally that requires a response on my part? What is the appropriate, most meaningful response from me?
  • If it’s a time for giving and receiving gifts to celebrate family or friendship, how much is enough? How much is too much?
  • Am I giving out of love or out of obligation?
  • Do I give so I will receive something in return?
  • Am I giving within my financial means or am I going crazy trying to out-give someone else?

Is there an alternative?

Let me ask you this question? What would happen if you gathered your family together and drew names? Each member would get ONE gift and each member would contribute to a fund to give to the needy. As a group, you could make a significant difference for a person, another family a homeless shelter.

What if you invited a homeless person or even a homeless family to your house and gave them gifts and a good meal?

Who can most use a gift and a good meal?

Perhaps it’s a time to give to someone who is really in need. If you don’t know anyone, give to a homeless shelter. Give to your local food bank. Or give to the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul. Every town has its shelters, food banks and outreaches to the needy. Find the one in your town and volunteer or give money to help support it.

My son is raising funds for Andre House in Phoenix. You can join him if you wish. If you’d like to donate to Andre House click here. It’s good for your heart.

What you get

The wonderful thing about it is the joy you receive when you truly help someone else in need. A meaningful gift to your children would be to help them experience this kind of joy. They will soon forget the toy that was quickly broken but they will always remember the feeling they experienced when they reached out to help someone else have a great holiday.

Merry Christmas
           Happy Hanukkah                                                                                                         Happy Holidays

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