Christmas Carols Keep Me and the Economy Humming

Christmas season is here. Although the malls have been decorated and manufacturers have slipped ads and fluff articles into newspapers and infomercials onto television since Halloween, the official holiday buying spree began last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. As the season gets into full swing, we'll have no respite from advertisers, Christmas carols, and salesfolk. The occasional reminder of giving to the needy, the Salvation Army bell ringers standing outside the supermarkets, or the various plays presented by church groups, merely spice up the buying experience, providing a brief spiritual interlude, a reminder of Christ (the reason for the season as many religious billboards will declare) and His teachings to love thy neighbor.

But it's only a pause. Baby Jesus and wise men and mistletoe and Santa and Rudolph and mulled cider and shiny new ice-skates under Druid trees speckled with tinsel and lights melt into a mishmash of mixed traditions called The Holiday Season. And more connotations get piled on with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. The more the merrier. As we spend more, the sellers get merrier.

I've read where stores often make one-third of the year's profits between Christmas and New Year's. Economists say it keeps the market humming. I think it's just marketing hype that's gotten out of control. I suspect people would spend money for gifts throughout the year, balancing the books of shopkeepers and toy makers far more evenly than this huge burst at the end of the year that can make or break a merchant. Yet I suspect the blast of carols amidst the blizzard of sales gets everyone hyped up to purchase more than they should, especially unneeded gizmos and gadgets for their expectant receivers.

I've known for awhile that I don't need more stuff. Possessions own you as much as you own them. They each require maintenance or at least some attention just to put them in storage.

I finally finished my new garage. It took over a year, mainly because I built it myself and wasn't in a hurry. And in the spring, I stopped to do lots of landscaping and yard work. The inspector signed off on it a few weeks ago when I had it finished and empty. A new three-car garage, empty and with a clean floor, is a joy to behold.

Now I'm in the process of moving everything we've stuffed into our old two-car garage over the past decade into the new (bigger, better, family-sized) one. I'm throwing out very little: a few boxes of old magazines, some broken toys, and various pieces of hardware. The rest of the stuff is getting organized in the new garage. I've got a big attic-like space where I can store and access my working collections of music (four boxes of books, sheet music, tablature and words) and writing (five boxes of journals, photocopied articles, and how-to books). I've got a workbench and a pegboard and hangers for all my woodworking tools, a bank of shelves for car maintenance stuff, a section for bike maintenance, a half a wall of places to hang garden tools such as rakes and shovels and store the sundry fertilizers, seeds, hose fittings, and drip irrigation supplies we've gathered while sowing our little acre.

Everything is organized, at least for now, but most of the new space is already filled up, and I still have more junk to move in. So what I want from Santa this year is hangers, shelves, stackable boxes, and filing cabinets. The gifts I need are stuff to store the gifts I got during previous holiday seasons.

The shopping cycle continues.