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To buy or not to buy

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

It began as an American Tradition. The Friday after the fourth Thursday in November, (in the US that Thursday was known as Thanksgiving), was the start of the Christmas shopping season. But since October, I have seen Christmas advertising on television. The malls have been decorated for weeks now. So the Christmas shopping season no longer revolves around Thanksgiving. Now the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. Super sales exist on that day and malls in the US open very early that day to entice shoppers to buy. Added to Black Friday, for the past decade or so, the Monday after American Thanksgiving has become Cyber Monday where on line deals entice consumers to buy. With Thanksgiving, we are encouraged to be thankful for what we have. Yet on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we are told that we need to buy, buy, buy.

These super sales have proven to be popular in other countries as well. A number of years ago, Canadian stores began offering Black Friday sales yet our Thanksgiving Day is in October not November. Even in Australia, I have heard talk of Black Friday and we have no Thanksgiving Day here at all.

Economists will tell us the importance of the Christmas shopping season. Stores rely on big sales in November and December to boost their balance sheets. Without these sales many stores would go bankrupt.

For many families though, the Christmas season is one of great stress. They go into debt buying gifts, on parties, on decorations, and on celebrating. Many families dread opening the credit card bills in January. For many facing tight budgets, December joys turn into New Year's woes.

Christmas then is a time of mixed blessings. I love the get togethers. I love the special music. I love Christmas movies. I like the busyness. I like the giving and receiving of presents. But I know love can't be bought on a credit card. I know that even the most perfect gift only brings joy for a short while. I am not telling people not to buy for Christmas, but maybe we can be more thoughtful when we shop. As the Grinch from Dr. Seuss says, Christmas can't be bought from a store. Maybe Christmas is a little bit more. Blessings

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