Yes, that’s “brack,” with an R. Because this time of year can turn us into a psychological swamp, if we let it.
I dunno about you, but I was horrified when TV ads came up for ten day long Black Fridays. As if it wasn’t already bad enough to see Christmas decorations up before Hallowe’en!
The Spouse and I were chatting the other night about how much times have changed since we were small children back in the 60’s, Our parents were the generation which saw the Great Depression, a World War, a baby boom, and the evolution of the suburbs. Instead of having to make everything, mass production took over the world, and with it, buying power followed close behind. Purchasing things which were once rationed became as easy as picking something off the store shelves.
On top of that, we were encouraged to buy. As a child, I remember TV ads about how Mom or Dad should get this widget over that one if they were a good parent. Guilt became ensnared with the idea of purchasing power. It was great to be able to buy “the latest,” whatever that might be. It was status. It was “I do better for my kids than you do.” It was the era when the middle class spoiled brat emerged, and those who produced and marketed knew it.
Along came buying on credit. What an idea! To buy now, and pay later? Of course, we’ll buy it all now, pretending it’s all ours when we are in fact renting it until it’s paid off. If we can’t afford it now, it doesn’t matter. We have time…and interest payments which can easily double the price. We’ll pay it off eventually. Consumerism Conquers All.
We’re paying for it now. We’re starting to catch wise to the ills and benefits of credit. We’re learning the lessons our parents learned as children, those hearty and resourceful survivors of the Great Depression. No one faults enjoying a boom, as long as at the end the lights are turned off, the doors are locked, and the hall is paid for by the end of the night.
What did our parents learn as children? How to make things last. How to take skills and build on them in ways to improve their lives, and the lives of others as they can. These are things we need to do now. I see a lot of this in my town. Simplicity needs to be the wave of the Present.
Here at home, Black Friday is best enjoyed after the onslaught. The mobs are gone; the mall is quiet. We stroll casually through, laughing and pointing, enjoying the decorations and displays, and never buy a thing. For us, the holidays are for spectators, and the nights are brilliant with landlocked stars.