A Spectre is Haunting America…

A spectre is haunting America – the spectre of overt, crass consumerism. All the powers of retail have entered into a holy alliance to fuel this spectre: Walmart and Target, K-Mart and Best Buy, Old Navy and Amazon.com. Since most of us that visit this site live in the real world (unlike a few of this site’s visitors that live in a “fantasy based reality” and, as such, have already overdosed on escapism), it is understandable that, at least during the holiday season, many of us would embrace this blatant consumerism in order to acquire a collection of nifty new toys to stave off the winter doldrums with.

With that said, what do you all want for Chanukah, Christmas, “Buy presents to fit in with the Capitalists Day,” or whatever other holiday you might celebrate this month? Have you run across any new DVDs, books, CDs, games, etc. in the last year that you found particularly good which might make a worthy addition to someone else’s wish list? Are any of you, by any chance, early adopters of Nintendo’s new DS hand held? If so, what do you think about it?

Anyone just getting socks? wink

18 thoughts on “A Spectre is Haunting America…

  1. I’ll be the first to confess that I have a strong materialistic tendency in me and one of the things I love about Yuletide is giving and getting gifts. I don’t expect to be doing much of either this year because my budget, like many other members of my family, just doesn’t have the disposable income it takes this time around. This year my tree will have a handful of gifts for my daughter and that’ll probably be it and I’m trying not to let that bother me too much.

    My mother is putting her craft-skills to good use by making the gifts she’s handing out this year in much the same way that she’s done the past several years. It makes me wish I had some similar ability to share, but one of the few things I’m good at is writing and I’m not sure how I’d use that to make a Christmas gift.

    But I don’t think this is the sort of response you were looking for. grin If I were to list off stuff that I think would be great gifts I could fill up several screens worth of text here.

  2. What do we want for Christmas?  Hmmmm. Easy one. My medicine.  As I’ve bitched about before, my insurance quit paying for it and it’s now up to $385 PER WEEK and I’m pretty much tapped out trying to pay for it.

    Other than that, anything Chanel.  A new Louis Vuitton purse.  A complete set of South Park CDs.  I’m pretty easy.  Not cheap, but pretty easy.

  3. I’m not immune to wanting cool stuf like dvd’s (there’s a region 1*bastards* dvd of “Dangerous Lady” I’ve been lusting after…) and cd’s (*insert name of obscure German band here*); but my lj wish-list also includes things like donations to worth-while causes (doesn’t have to be money, can be a donation of clothes or books); tree-planting (okay, maybe not when it’s snowing smile ) or vidcaps/icons from my favourite fandoms.

    Capcha: believe!

  4. Great topic, Trotsky (and SO appropriate for your moniker wink).

    I love giving gifts, and even though the pressure is higher during this season to get it all done, I enjoy finding something that I think the recipient will enjoy.

    I’m asking our relatives not to buy anything in the way of toys for our oldest this year, since she has so much crap already it’s hard to walk in her room.  But my brother and his wife will take her on an outing when they get here, and I’m sure she’ll enjoy that just as much.  Everyone who has had a baby seems to enjoy buying things for another one, and we purposely haven’t bought much for ours, so just about anything she gets will be fine.

    There’s nothing I really lust after at this time of year—the only couple of things I really, really want are way too expensive for anyone to get me, and it will be several years before I can afford them myself.  My gift to my mom this year will be several months of my helping her enter her genealogy data that she’s been researching over the years.  My dad doesn’t want anything but books, and he prefers to buy them himself, so an Amazon gift certificate always fits the bill for him.

    I guess the only things I would really want are a good eight hours’ sleep (all in a row, please), a grownup night out with friends, the new LOTR special edition DVD, and some chocolate.  Okay, lots of chocolate.

  5. I don’t have as much money to spend on gifts for myself this year – getting HL2 to run on my PC was expensive enough grin – but then I already bought heaps of stuff for myself already.

    Kinda because I’m celebrating christmas (the materialistic part) early this year – seeing that the hot phase of my masters thesis work (actually my diploma, I’m in Germany) is going to start in about 2 weeks, so I thought I might as well spoil myself rotten now, while I have a little time.

    As I said, I bought mostly PC stuff (new graphics card, HD, USB stick, a new OS – legal, I must be getting old! – all the nice stuff). I also bought a couple books (even though I stated that I would read some from the ‘unread’-shelf (3 feet thick now… wink ). Some collectable playing cards, a few cheap PC games from the bargain bin…

    Like GM, I am also hoping to find some nice presents for other people. My best friend got a T-Shirt with an inside joke of ours yesterday, and she’ll also get two handbags to add to her expansive collection on Christmas. Still missingsomething fitting for my parents though.

  6. When I see something I want to give to a friend (and can afford it), I don’t hole it away until Christmas. I give it to them them. This means that I get to give them the gift before they have a chance to get it for themself, hence spoiling the “gift” aspect.

    I’m trying to rebuild my CD collection after I left my CD travelling case in the airport flying back from a funeral, but I’ve gotten some of them already – so I guess those other 13 CDs would be nice. I want a new computer (mine’s going on nine years old, and even though I’m not a gamer I’m beginning to get impatient – plus the current machine can’t handle two OSs), I want a plane ticket for my Wichita/Knoxville/Austin jaunt in May (visiting family, might as well do the Midwest Tour and visit friends as well), I want Sulawesi and Jamaican Blue coffee, I want my !@(*O^@$%(*^ EE installation to WORK, goddammit, and I want my carpets steam-cleaned.

    Bah. I’m grown up, all right. A kid would look at that list and be confused as all heck. I want my carpets steam-cleaned?!?? (Well…I do…)

  7. I don’t want anything for Giftmas, thankyouverymuch. I have too damn much stuff now, and I need to get rid of a lot of it, and there is really no place to put anything else in my small place. It’s pretty sad when I can remember the days when most of my belongings fit into a big trunk. Those days are long gone.

    Instead of owning DVDs, I prefer to rent them from Netflix. If there are movies (damn few, sad to say) that bear repeating, then I’ll buy them. Same with books, although the libraries I use are a little sparse with the really esoteric stuff I want to read, as well as the SF I love.

    I need some new furniture. My couch needs repair and reupholstering, and I would like to have a nice recliner. It’s sad when the most ‘comfy’ chair in my house is my computer chair. I also need to get some maintenance done on my car, and to purchase some Earthboxes for next years garden.

    I try to seperate needs from wants. Yeah, sure, who wouldn’t want a cute little digital projector?  (I like that better than a plasma TV.) But I have to prioritize, which means doing without the luxuries, and concentrating on the neccessities.

    Sunfell
    Professional Scrinch

  8. it is understandable that, at least during the holiday season, many of us would embrace this blatant consumerism in order to acquire a collection of nifty new toys to stave off the winter doldrums with

    Nice post Trotsky.  Very apt. 

    I remember one or two Christmases, back before I went back to school, when I actually went out holiday shopping with a few bucks in my pocket.  It was nice to get myself the stuff I wanted, and it was really nice to be able to actually buy gifts for my family. 

    I think, for me, the best part of those Christmases was the feeling of having enough. I could actually walk around the mall without wondering what the heck I was doing there, see things that I wanted, and be OK with not buying them, because I was choosing not to buy them.

    I think it’s probably the closest thing to being a kid again, and knowing that your family is taking care of you, and that you’re safe, and that everything’s going to be OK.  That’s a nice feeling.  Secure.  Cozy.  The wife and I are both looking forward to experiencing that again. 

    In the meantime, we have dogs to help us feel warm and cozy and ‘familyish.’  And we can at least call our family on the phone, even if we can’t actually be there with them.

  9. I am buying gifts from the Human Rights Campaign store.  That way, I get some decent gifts and support my favorite cause at the same time. 

    The HRC fights for equality for us all.  I’m especially proud to give such gifts to my conservative family.  hahaha What better way to make them swallow their pride than to have them realize that their christmas present helped support the cause of equality that they so despise.  *BIG EVIL SMILE*

    Go to Human Rights Campaign and click on their store icon.  They do actually have some really nice stuff.  I’ve ordered from them before and the quality of the merchandise is great. 

    Buhahahaha

    smile

  10. Thanks for the great entry Trotsky. This brought back numerous memories growing up when my Dad would ask only for socks for Xmas.

    I contrast that to the Xmas celebrations with my own kids and our in-laws. For them unwrapping a sweater or other clothing item typically elicits a “not clothes again” response and never a thank-you as they quickly dispose of the clothing item on the floor and move on to other booty. I guess I have to admit going through the same “gotta have the latest, greatest toy” phase during earlier Xmases. But now that I am the same age as my Dad was when all he wanted was socks, what I want to do during Xmas is spend time with my family and in-laws, despite the inevitable whining during the present opening. And like my Dad all I want are some socks, perhaps we will compare styles.

    The Prick

  11. I’m getting tires (socks or shoes for my car) for the holidays. While a new cd player might be more fun, I decided that changing a tire in -10 degree weather while it is sleeting or snowing wouldn’t be any fun either, so I wisely opted for tires. Plus I decided that if I get new tires it probably wouldn’t snow very much just to spite me.

  12. Our immediate family quite buying Christmas gifts about four years ago when my sister-in-law was suffering with breast-cancer.  We took all the money we would have spent on gifts and gave it to her family instead.

    After that, we all started talking about how much of a relief it was to not be out in madness trying to track down some over priced gifts.  We made a decision to get together and share time at the holidays and save the gifts for birthdays.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t keep a wish list for those that just can’t fathom not getting me something for Hanakwazamas. wink  One of the big items on my list was already fulfilled by a fellow evil bastard.

  13. Les wrote: But I don’t think this is the sort of response you were looking for.

    Honestly, I was not looking for any particular sort of response when I wrote that entry. I did, however, want to make it possible for someone to write a glowing review of any materialistic thing they wanted while managing to be “on topic,” should they choose to do so.

    As for my Christmas, it looks like it is going to be very slim this year. I graduated from Wayne State University this past August with a Master of Library and Information Science degree and have yet to find a job. (Thanks voters for voting NO on library millages!) Luckily I only took me three semesters to get my Master’s degree, so I have only $16,000 worth of student loans to repay. I have already finished shopping for my father, mother, and sister. I spent a whopping $25 total.

    There is not much on my wish list. Most of my list consists of foodstuffs; teas, dried meats, and the like. I do have a few books on my list, namely a new copy of The Hobbit and all the books in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. If it was not 80+ dollars, I would ask for the four volumes in Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West (as translated by Anthony C. Yu from the original Chinese.) My local library does not seem to think it is worth having Journey to the West on their shelves, even though there is a faily large Asian population around here.  angry

  14. The pagan winterfests joined with the “Christian” holiday and then merged with capitalism. Most Holidays are inventions to stimulate consumerism, Trotsky. Mothers Day and Valentine’s Day are 2 other artificial Holidays meants to stimulate sales too. Being a freshly minted graduate I guess this is news to you but us elder folk, many like me who agree with your analysis, find your post to be one in a log line of those who point out the inconsistentcy of secular Holidays based on religious dogma. Christmas can be a spiritual time for the true believer but for many it’s more about what to buy. As an Agnostic, this is one of many reasons why I find those who preach should pay more attention to their own actions and practice their belief system freely rather than forcing everyone to conform to them.

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