Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Shopping

Jen and I started our Christmas shopping today, which entailed diffidently scanning a few stores and then going out for a bottle of wine with lunch. Consequently, we weren’t all that successful as consumers—at least of gifts, although we did manage to put away a carafe of Rhone and a plate of cheese.

The only way I can face the holiday shopping rush is after a few drinks, which just goes to show the relative mindlessness of the buying frenzy. That I need to be inebriated in order to successfully navigate the consumerist arena is evidence of its inanity (and perhaps mine, too), but what the hell: ‘tis the season to be jolly, after all.

I am, like any thoughtful person, ambivalent about Christmas. I realize that I ought to be buying heifers for absolutely impoverished people in Africa instead of spending my money on electronic gizmos from Sharper Image that will end up in the landfill by March. Alas, however, I am a product of my culture and find the pressure to pour funds into the coffers of multinational cartels simply too overpowering.

So sue me, and if you win, be sure to spend the settlement on micro loans to indigenous craftspeople in Guatemala.

I am, at least, trying to open my wallet to pretty much anyone who asks me for money on the street for the next few weeks. All year long, I’ve been throwing my small change in a bucket; now, whenever I go out, I fill my pockets with nickels, dimes, and quarters to that I can hand over fistfuls when I get spare-changed.

I’m sure these donations aren’t going a very long way to making the world a better place, either; maybe I’m only assuaging my liberal guilt when I give a panhandler money for food—if not drugs or alcohol—at least, though, I’m making myself feel incrementally better, which—from a utilitarian standpoint—is, at least, not all bad.


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