The Dancing Puritan

Sunday, December 30, 2012

After Christmas Shopping

Why was the mall here in Dawsonville, GA packed to capacity yesterday (December 29th)? After all, Christmas is over and shoppers have already "rushed home with their treasures." Perhaps there is no fiscal cliff, maybe the recession has all been a facade.  I don't think so.

Here are my theories (not based on any scientific study--just my subjective opinions):

1.  The Christmas Season Produced Habits.

We have been complaining for years that the Christmas Season begins earlier each year.  Well before Thanksgiving Day, stores are decorated and Christmas is in the air. Thanksgiving Day marks the mad rush to getting serious about Christmas. It officially begins with a sort of dark introduction, Black Friday.  That being said we (our culture at large) get settled into shopping and spending very early and, like the well greased sled that Clark Griswold rides in Christmas Vacation, we get going and we just can't stop, shopping and spending that is.

2.  Expectations Were Not Met.

Every year we set expectations concerning Christmas.  "This year is going to be the year we win it all."  Sometimes we might even say, at the end of Christmas Day, "Next year we will ________________."  We even set expectations for Christmases future.  Likely for some folks when they open the box and find another tie, pair of socks, or cheap flashlight it is a downer for them.  Even though they have delighted in shopping for others, there is still a sense, that perhaps this year, beneath the bright paper there is the present that will hit the jackpot.  When that does not happen--well we go shopping again.

3.  Extending Christmas.

Our family keeps the Christmas decorations up until the New Year. Our New Year's Day celebration is supposed to "put closure on Christmas."  On January first afternoon, I am up on the roof taking down those strands of lights that I risked my life putting up a month earlier.  As Linus said, "Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it is getting too dangerous." That line certainly applies to decorating the roof!  Christmas is an extended break. We approach the season with a sense of hope. It is a break from the normal fare of life.  It changes the pace.  And even though it speeds up the pace at least it does so in a different direction. That is really one of the great positives of the Christmas Season.  Life is hard.  We are tired.  Trouble is everywhere.  Christmas brings some refreshment to us and we have a hard time letting it go.

4.  Returning Merchandise

We did not particularly like the gift or it just didn't fit or match or work for us in some way.  So after Christmas we return to the stores to return the gifts for other gifts that fit or that we like better.  That is actually a sound reason for after-Christmas shopping.

5.  Great Sales.

Perhaps some folks choose not to spend their entire Christmas budget and save for after-Christmas deals.  Other's might spend all of their Christmas budget and justify further expenditures by "saving money" via spending money on the deals.

I've got an idea about Christmas.  Perhaps someone will join with me and we can turn Christmas upside down. Someone like Tim Allen (Christmas with the Kranks).  I have often thought about skipping Christmas.  I don't mean skipping it entirely but skipping December 25th as Christmas.  My idea is to purchase a Christmas tree on December 24th (at a deep discount), decorate the tree on Christmas Eve (at night), rest, pray, and plan on December 25th and start Christmas shopping on December 26th.  Then we (our family) move the actual day of Christmas until January 25th (or whenever we can schedule a day off from work around that time).  We enjoy some of the benefits of the normal season, (with family and friends), but we delay our main celebration until January.  It is really the best of both worlds and it may save us a ton of money. It may also help us to focus more on the birth of our Savior.

What about you?

1.  What habits have you developed over the Christmas Season that need to change?  Perhaps they began as good things (buying gifts for folks that you love) but turned into bad practices (spending money that you do not have and going deeper into debt).  Good things can become sinful practices.

2.  What do you do when your expectations are not met?  Have you learned to be content?  Is your life built upon Christ alone?

3.  Do you have a difficult time moving forward?  Whether it is Christmas or something much more substantive there is a time to pause and a time to march onward!

4.  Are you willing to make an exchange when necessary?  There is nothing necessarily virtuous about holding onto things that do not work, do not fit and are just not right in some way.  As Christians we must be willing to put off such things and to put on the virtues of the godly life.

5.  Are you easily drawn to "great deals."  We should be thoughtful about our expenditures and look for ways to save money on items that we need.  However, we should be careful not to spend money that we do not have on items that we do not need (or cannot put to use in a profitable way) just because it is a once in a lifetime deal. Where is your treasure?