It's December, and the mad rush of people scurrying to buy this year's version of the Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo is supposed to be upon us. I've never understood the psychology of buying whatever is said to be the hottest new thing, and I've certainly never understood the buy now pay all year mentality of Christmas. So the headlines about what a mad success the retail holidays are this year are perhaps a bit lost on me to begin with-but this year it's even more true.
On Black Friday this year, as is our custom, my family and I studiously avoided the mall. We did a little grocery shopping, went to the park for a walk, and played games at home. The thing that surprised me all day that day was how mild the crowds looked everywhere we drove past. The mall had parking spots. The Target store was downright civilized. Traffic was reasonable all over our city. Then we got home and I looked at the headlines of mad crowds and people pepper spraying each other and excellent retail sales, and I thought it must be a fluke.
Since then, I've been shopping a couple of times. Both times, stores weren't crowded; there were lots of sales, but fewer shoppers. My own online retail business is distinctly average this year. Not a lot worse, nor a lot better than previous, so I'm not buying that everyone is shopping on line.
Here's my theory. I think that people may be getting it, finally. There are always going to be those who get up at three in the morning to get an Xbox or a talking teddy bear, but I think people are shopping less this year. Maybe the knowledge that the world is swirling round the cosmic bowl is causing a moment of reflection in American humanity. Maybe people are seeing the stupidity of buying plastic crap with a plastic card and spending two or three months eating macaroni and plastic cheez food product to be able to pay for it. Maybe the knowledge that our elected representatives have voted to be able to pick us up and toss us in the slammer for life by merely calling us a name is putting a damper on our acquisition instincts. But I think people are getting it. I certainly hope so. After all, according to the story, Jesus was born in a stable, not a food court.
If we can't make it happen anywhere else maybe we can at least make it happen at the malls--Peace on Earth.