Mindless Consumption


“Black Friday is the day we trample people for things we don’t need , the day after being thankful for what we have.”   Steven McQueen

I love that quote! I’ve been following ‘The Minimalists’ for a little over a year–a year of looking more closely at why we buy what we buy — the myriad of reasons why we as North Americans are the Kings and Queens of Mindless Consumption.

My questioning of why I feel the need to acquire began about 5 years ago after devouring books on our possessions and how we hold them so dear to our hearts– often to our own detriment — and the difficulty we have of letting go of those precious mementos. Don Asletts’ books on decluttering were life changers.

And now we’re entering the biggest shopping season of the year… It’s no longer just, ‘The Holiday Season’, but now, ‘The Holiday Shopping Season’.  Oh, now there’s a special season for shopping–could we compare that to hunting season? That small window of opportunity to hunt down your trophy prize(s) at the best price ever?

Tomorrow is Black Friday. I’m staying home. I’m not even buying on-line. My own little protest to all the Insanity of the Season.

Another little personal protest against the Holiday Shopping Season: Remember that little thing called ‘New Year’s Resolutions’? Well, I made 3, and made an effort at 2 of them, but I have been exceedingly successful with the 3rd. As you know, this is retail’s Big Season– retail’s Big Bang! This time frame is when retail needs to pull in as much money as they can to hold them over til the next holiday shopping season.

Last year at ‘my’ store, the owner carried a small, seemingly insignificant item; sweaters for wine bottles. Did you know wine bottles needed sweaters? I didn’t either, but evidently they do. As I stood at the counter and priced these tiny sweaters (one even had my name on it!), the absurdity of what we purchase in the name of Christmas hit me. As I gazed at this item, I thought of all the need in the world: children starving and without adequate clothing or shelter, refugees hurting and living in tents, war torn countries, or people working several jobs just to make ends meet. It just wasn’t ‘right’, and it just wasn’t fair. I know life is not fair, and I know purchasing a gift is not an evil thing, but for me, that tiny sweater brought it all home. I would hope that the lesson for me is to think about what is important in life not just at Christmas time, but all the time, and try to live accordingly.

Enter: New Years Resolution #3…  I worked two Christmas’ in retail, and after last Christmas, walking out the door of the store, with no bonus, not even a gift card, just a “thanks, that’s how it is in retail…”, I SWORE that was my last Christmas in retail. This past May I informed my employer I no longer wanted to work the Christmas season–I was fully prepared to be fired–I am blessed in that we don’t need my part-time income to live on. To my surprise, I was informed that was okay—I didn’t have to work Christmas. In fact, I was promised that the word ‘Christmas’ would not even be uttered in my presence! Yes, I still have my job, imagine that.  I’m going to enjoy this less-stressed Christmas.

Check out ‘The Minimalists’, it could be a real eye-opener and cause you to consider things you’ve never questioned before.