Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mammon Friday!

Black Friday, Black Thursday or Black...Mammon Friday from the old Roman god of greed?

Now that Black Friday is gone, I personally think "Mammon Friday" is a better name, maybe it is time for some reflection. To see people lined up all week on TV, see them passing up a celebration with family and friends to instead wait in line with strangers on a sidewalk to save a few bucks is to see greed and avarice in action. They are not being thrifty but greedy because the savings merely allows them to buy more stuff!

I won't even discuss the fact that these men and women must feel that their time sitting and waiting, often with their kids (ah the lessons they'll learn), is far less valuable than the savings they'll get. It's kinda like saying, "I can't be broke, I still have checks." Meals remain uncooked, houses uncleared, personal hygiene ignored, and family time, study and interaction forgotten.

When I was a kid in church, we were taught that two of the seven deadly sins were greed and avarice. They were regularly taught and discussed. They were bad things and we all knew it.

Merchants were usually open six days a week; most stores were closed on Sunday. You could count on four days a year when everything was closed and no one dared violate that rule. New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas were holidays for everyone, consumers and employees. Stores closed at 6 pm the night before so everyone was home for the holidays. There was no Black Friday and I suspect many a merchant didn't take until the day after Thanksgiving to become profitable for the year. If nothing else, their banks wouldn't have stood for it.

Then slowly and during my 67 year lifetime, a new kind of ethic grew. Store hours became longer, more and more stores pressed for the repeal of "blue laws," and before long stores were open seven days a week. That was merely the beginning. Holidays that were relatively benign suddenly became events.  Christmas had already fallen by the beginning of the 20th century. 

New Years Day soon became an orgy of food, drink and football. Valentines Day was elevated to fancy gifts such as jewelry, candy and flowers. A conspiracy of the florists to get in on the good times? Easter became not the celebration of the risen Christ but a reason to buy fancy new clothes, gifts and candy for the kiddies. We looked for the risen Easter Bunny's eggs.

Mothers Day followed and became not only the biggest phone day to call home but florist day of the year. However, the poor Dad's received the most collect phone calls of the year and a tie on Father's Day.

Then comes Memorial Day, the 4th of July followed by Labor Day and quickly it's a horse race between the witch, the turkey and Rudolph. Often they are all displayed together in the same store.

Its all by design. Think about it. Do we need all of these shopping experiences in a year? This doesn't even include anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. This in a country whose houses have doubled in size over the past 50 years and you STILL need to rent a storage unit to store all your stuff?

I think that we as a nation have forgotten two things, the difference between NEED and WANT. The same rule could be applied to quality of ownership and loads of junk.

Do we really need all this stuff on Black Friday? While walking today with a friends five year old daughter, she asked me what the meaning of Christmas was. I paused ready with the standard rhetoric then decided to express that it was a celebration of the birth of a man we believe will forgive us for our bad things and in his forgiving us will give live forever. It was a time to be with family and friends and be thankful for what we have and to help others. We should give simple gifts to express our love. It was not to be buying and spending a great deal of money for gifts. She seemed satisfied.

Each year there is a kids toy that eclipses all others. People go to great lengths to procure that toy. How many days does that desire last? Did you know that more actual numbers and more dollars are spent on video games now than movies? I think it's a three to one ratio. How long before that game is history? Or was the must have toy alone and ignored?

We buy gifts for others in a spasm of good cheer but rarely look at them. It's massed produced and has as much personality as a rock. I hear over and over from store owners about the cost of things. You never hear about quality, the wonder of having a unique piece that no one else will ever own. Think about it. What would YOU rather have? I've heard the best gift to give is the one you want.  Why not buy less but something more personal? Unique. One-of-a-kind?

I urge you to not only look at my Etsy store at but check out all the other unique hand made items on Etsy as well. Support singular artists rather than conglomerate corporations where your purchase is not even a blip on their radar. Trust me, it IS a big deal to me (and I'm sure many others) when you buy one of our creations.

We can talk about design, even love or curse it, but we must be ever mindful that design is not just things but ideas as well.

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