I Believe in a Bad Economy

Does that make me a bad citizen? I don’t know. I was watching the news this morning and they were reporting (with quite a bit of hushed alarm in their voices) that retailers are worried. People aren’t spending enough on this, the week before Christmas. It’s a sign of a bad economy, they say. As I sit here with a throbbing head, watery eyes, stuff dripping uncontrollably out the front of my nose and down the back of my throat, wanting to scream (if my voice could go that high) when I think about the Christmas shopping I have left to do…my first thought is “Good. I hope nobody else buys one more thing and our entire economy goes down the toilet.” What’s the worst that could happen? I don’t know if I really want to know the answer to that question. But the insanity would stop, right? I just can’t figure out why we all feel so compelled to buy all these gifts with money we don’t have for people that already have way too much stuff. I’m trying to start a revolution here. I guess maybe it will just be a revolution of one. But I don’t care. I’m buying one gift for each of my kids and one thing for each of their stockings. And a little something for my nephews too. And that’s it. No more. We’ll spend the holiday with family and friends that we love and we’ll eat good food and we’ll look at our pretty white lights sparkling all over my house that remind me of the way that the stars shone on the night of our Savior’s birth. And we’ll worship. To heck with the economy.

On much nicer note, we finished up with the last of the Christmas concerts this week. Callie had her first choir concert as a middle schooler. She even surprised us by being listed as a percussionist on one of the songs, starting out the song and keeping the rhythm throughout on the tambourine. She did a wonderful job.

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44 thoughts on “I Believe in a Bad Economy”

  1. There is no better sight and/or sound then to see and/or hear the joy people feel after receiving a gift from someone…regardless of what economy the gift giver chooses to contribute to in the process. The greatest thing is that Christmas isn’t about the economy. Merry Christmas!

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  2. Yes, I know this. I know that gifts are good. The gift of our Savior was good. I know that I am seriously lacking something in the gift giving and receiving department. I admire people who get it. I want to get it. It’s just that I am just a great big grouchy grinch. I need more reminders of goodness.

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  3. Maybe people do spend too much on christmas, but retailers are worried, while you may not understand it, look at it from my point, it is my job on the line, and my job is the only thing that is going on in my life right now, and I like my job….and lots of people benefit from it directly and indirectly. People spend money because it is there way of showing love, it may not be the right anwser but it is there. I also see a lot of customers who spend money on those less fortunete and all those people who spend money enable me to win prizes that I can give to my friends….

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  4. Well, when you put it that way…I definitely don’t want your life to go down the toilet. And you are very good at your job at that retailer. And you win good prizes that you give to your friends. You’re a good girl, Caity Lynn. Merry Christmas, my friend.

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  5. Callie looks so beautiful! Those dresses are really pretty.

    I get tired of all of the Christmas rush and commotion over gifts too. But I do love giving and getting gifts. I guess I am too materialistic though.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with family. We are looking forward to having an amazing feast and spending the day with just our family.

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  6. I bet it will be an amazing feast, Kirsty. You are one amazing feast-maker. Are you gonna have some of those amazing-looking cookies made on that amazing cookie sheet with it?

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  7. Maybe you put too much pressure on your gifts, or maybe you just hate shopping malls when they’re noisy and hard to get through. Try shopping in places where there’s a store, you walk in it, and to leave and go to the next store you have to walk outside first or go to the car and drive somewhere else. Or shop like kids–a person’s whole personality isn’t bothered with, they just give what is pretty and somehow remarkable to them and when it’s opened the recipient is happy and the kids are grinning. Like someone gets a pretty plate even though they never once said “I like pretty plates”. Or you see something wild and weird at the museum gift shop, so Voila! Alan’s got some clock shaped like the letter U with no numbers and only one hand. You could easily assume he’d want a conservative theology book, but you never know–he might just go batty over that inconvenient clock.

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  8. I give the kids three presents, Jesus got gold, frankencense (sp?) and mirrh and it was good enough for Him so it’s good enough for them! Actually, it’ll probably be even fewer this year. They get overwhelmed by too much stuff anyways… And if you saw the girls’ room you’d agree they don’t need anything else to drop on the floor for me to step on. Gretchen and I are feeling scroogy, too. It’s all too much for me this year. The most fun I’ve had so far was the kids’ program at church this year. We put makeup on 45 kids and it was great. And fun to watch. And they all worked so hard. PS Callie is gorgeous, I wish I could hear her sing, too.

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  9. I do put too much pressure, Jackie. I do. That’s exactly what my life is all about – too much pressure. If I enjoyed buying whatever struck my fancy, then I would do it. But I think I’m lacking a fancy. Nothing ever strikes my fancy and then I feel dumb, no matter what I give. Basically, I HATE giving. I really don’t like getting gifts either, although I always appreciate the giver and never want them to feel unappreciated. I just don’t know how to become a gift person when I’m just not. So this year I’m giving up. I bet you give good gifts though. That’s the thing about you gift givers. You’re just plain good.

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  10. Leslie, I think you’re indulging in a little bit of hard-on-yourselfness. Fancies strike you all the time, and it comes out whacky–like hucking whatever’s in hand across the house, licking all the way around the spoon of chocolate for five minutes…I bet you’d even pull the car to the side of the road to take your shoes off and step in puddles. By step I mean jump in and get the mud flinging up to your eyelids. Right now from behind the therapist’s couch I think you’re take the fancies and baseball batting them, just the same as you would if mailboxes came flying at your face. WHAM! Splinter!

    Just go to a store in Unbridled Leslie Mode, and first thing that catches your eye buy it. Hot pink gumballs? Give ’em to Robbie! He’ll blow the biggest bubble in Bosnia and be totally proud and happy because you just gave him his childhood back for a spitty moment.

    Yeah, seriously. That’s what you should do, because I’d love to hear what people got.

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  11. Leslie, Everyone says you’re like Alan but this is one big chunk of me. I tried to put the moratorium on presents early in our marriage. Just the children, was my cry. Alas. However, Jackie, Kirsty, Caity, Bean, you guys make me want to.. well, almost make me want to… uh (cough), give … Ooops, gotta go, baby needs changed.

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  12. I’m late, I know.

    If it helps, Les, remember that there are 12 days of Christmas, that gives you from December 25-January 6th to give gifts (traditionally).

    [You can take me off your Christmas list because I didn’t get you one…just start prioritizing your friends, that’ll cut the list!!]

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  13. Great. Day One we’ll jump in puddles. Day Two we’ll blow pink bubbles. Day Three we’ll twirl with ribbons. Day Four we’ll dance to Kelly Clarkson. I’m sure I can think of eight more things to do that won’t do a thing for our economy. My fancies are kickin’ in now.

    Want to do the high kick with me, Pilgrim?

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  14. I’m just plain bad at shopping this time of year. Any other time of the year I’ll see something that tickles my fancy and I know would tickle someone else’s fancy, but at Christmas time…no. I’m just so overjoyed Will is flying in tomorrow night, I’m standing here beside myself. LOL

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  15. Maybe we could just add tickling to the list of presents. That can be Day Five. But no tickling fancies, please, Tonia. That would be a little weird. Merry Christmas to Will!

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  16. Leslie,

    I understand your sentiments.

    I’m reading ‘Brave New World’ right now and a prophetic theme of the book is the brain-washing of American commercialism and consumption (a topic that is dearly despised by me).

    I read this last night and thought of your blog and the worries of the poor retailers and thought you might like it:

    “The ethics and philosophy of under-consumption… So essential when there was under-production; but in an age of machines… – positively a crime against society.”

    (You’re not alone in the revolution)

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  17. Jackie – You are so right about the shop thing. There is nothing like avoiding the mall…and easier if you don’t have many malls to trick you into visiting them.

    Kirsty – You are the best at feasts. I can’t wait to delight in the feast that is coming on the 24th and 25th…and we don’t have to share this time. 🙂

    Pilgrim – The tradition of twelve days after Christmas is really taken seriously here. Unfortunately…our tree won’t live that long.

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  18. Dear Bean, that’s why traditionally you put up the tree on the first day of christmas (the 25th) and not during Advent, when you’re supposed to be repenting and preparing your sorry heart for the coming of the King.

    Jackie, are you saying that I’m usually OUT? I might have hurt feelings.

    Les, you kick that bucket, I’ll kick the one that has all my papers waiting for big red marks on them. Then I’ll kick the computer I have to enter grades into. Then I’ll kick the students who failed…..; ) OK, maybe not the last one.

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  19. Bosnian bubble gum is total poo. A bubble wouldn’t be possible, no matter how many pieces of its rock-hard flesh you inhale. It’s irritatingly expensive for irritatingly horrible gum.

    I don’t like shopping or giving gifts either, Leslie. I’d rather bake something for someone. Gifts from the store seem so impersonal and always overpriced.

    I guess this makes me a terrible person, too.

    I listened to a radio show today talking about giving. It said, in regards to loving one another and giving…that “love, at this time of year, is having a desire and ability to give to others what they really want or need.” (obviously, in moderation.) “see their perspective and desires. don’t give simply out of your desire and opinions as to what you think the other person needs. no matter how much you may feel justified to do so, the gift is about them, not you.”

    Frump.

    I was convicted by that, and thus frustrated. Doesn’t everyone want banana bread for Christmas? Cause I sure love to make it. Don’t they know it’s made with love? lots of it? And then I realize the issue is with me. my heart. my unwillingness to see that what I want and think is special isn’t necessarily what the receiver wants.

    Frump.

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  20. Exactly. And that is where I always get stuck. I’m so bad at gifts. And then Jackie gets all inspiring on me and I think “Oooo! Fun! I can do that – Full Unbridled Leslie Mode – AKA All About Me.” And then you write this and remind me why I hate giving in the first place. I always feel dumb having no idea what the person wants and I always feel quite sure that giving them one of my own creations is not needed OR wanted AND a tad arrogant on my part. So I give up. I hate giving.

    But I loved your banana bread. Yummy.

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  21. I love it when I open my mail box and see a Christmas card from someone that I love. Its nice. For the same reason I like to send out cards, even if they are unwanted by some, there will always be that one who feels very special when they open the mail box and find that card. It feels the same for me to get or give a gift. Just knowing that someone took the time to think of me or I of them is nice. I just can’t stand when it becomes an expectation or even, to some, a requirement. I know I am a sap and I used to hate that about myself but today I love it. It is the thought that counts, that’s not just a cliche. It really means something, at least to me.

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  22. I read that book about people’s love languages and gift giving is not mine. So I won’t judge those whose it is (I really like that sentence). However, mark this down and let the revolution begin here: my love language and what I “need” the most is Words Of Affirmation. So if you want to give me something I love and need, just say, “Dang, you look good today Dianne,” (do not add “for an almost 60 year old), or “You do a really nice newsletter layout.” In return I’ll knit you some socks or something.

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  23. Mackenzie,

    I think most people I know have no idea what they need. Often I know that I do not. I have family members who think they need DVDs and video games every Christmas, but I think they need books, so I buy them books.

    But my point is, here’s what I think people need:

    People need to know that someone thinks of them, and not just that, but that someone values them enough to take their own personal time and give that to them in some form. In the West, we have an excess of money and a deficit of time.

    People need things that are creative, thoughtful and take time (either in chosing or making), not commercialized, mass produced and chosen because we saw it in a Sunday morning ad. In the ‘West’, we have an excess of money and a deficit of time.

    People need gifts that are given and created with love and purpose. Whether it be high praise, a back rub or a loaf of banana bread.

    I don’t think people will always acknowledge, that in an immediate sense, they want these things. But it is my opinion that these are the gifts that will carry and stay with that person and not be forgotten when the ‘Nano’ or ‘HD’ version is released. Because it’s not the gift that stays it’s what’s behind that gift.

    Whether we like it or not, Christmas is about the economy. and I love it when people fight for the truth of the celebration.

    Give me a loaf a banana bread over an iPod or DVD player any day.

    And Dianne, you look good for 35…

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  24. I wish I had your confidence, Shannon. I have a question though: does your wife feel the same? Because it has been my observation that more women shop for gifts than men. More women contribute to the economy this time of year, and try to fulfill their lists while the men don’t so much think about it or care. So I, being a woman, feel jealous of the men who don’t care because I want to not care but I feel so much guilt.

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  25. I am not so bold to speak for Jenni, perhaps I will urge her to weigh in with her thoughts.

    I don’t mean to imply that it’s not a struggle for me or that I don’t care and feel a sense of obligation to buy typical gifts. I promise I do. I often get insecure and feel gift-inadequacy at the moment they tear the first wrapped corner of my gift. And a thought will rush in that is similar to ‘I should have gotten them something ‘cooler’ that this homemade widget…’

    I think where I am employed adds to this as well, because I imagine them saying “Geez what a weirdo… I would have taken a used DVD over this…”

    But in my heart, I’m confident that I’m doing something good, even if it may not be obvious.

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  26. the best gifts I was ever given: 1. coming home to find my house cleaned by my sister and her friend at a time when there were bills, hospital stays, mandatory overtime at work 2. bags of treats and books and money when Emma had surgery when she was 4 yrs from our church.. that being said, I love to find a great Christmas present for my kids but I don’t really buy them toys the rest of the year. We don’t give gifts to adults in our family anymore, I don’t need anything, if you really want to be helpful, pay my electric bill, we just want to be together, eat, play games and enjoy eachother.

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  27. I wish you could wrap up time in a box and give it away to people. That would be a gift that I would love to give and to receive. (or a back rub, and banana bread for sure! Ooo…with something hot to drink!!)

    If only it were that simple, the idea of just buying people what they want or need, regardless of our desire or wants. It sure sounds lovely. And for those that are truly needy, that works. But, 95% of the people on my gift list are needy of nothing material at all. I feel like it’s pointless then to just fulfill the material longings of friends and family that could just go out and buy an DVD or iPod or whatever it is anyway. It doesn’t show them that I love them. They cannot buy any of the things which they actually really need…love, truth, someone who thinks about them, something that took effort and little cash. These are the things the people on my list are most needy of…and probably most everyone’s list…something that they can’t buy themselves at Wal-mart (or NorthPark or whatever, Dallas).

    But, I do not often take the time or effort to give people those things I want them to have. I would LOVE a homemade gift or gift of service any day over something from a store, but I know there are people that don’t feel that way. Although I hate and do not do a lot of shopping, buying for those people is easier and would make them happy. I know…so when did what was easy become better than what is truly good? Maybe that’s why we feed the economy our money, check it off our gift list, run on to the next thing, and we feel satisfied with approval when our recipients open up exactly what they wanted. It takes no love, no thought, little sacrifice, and little effort to do that. We take the meaningfulness and graciousness and love out of giving with this. I don’t want to forget why we are celebrating and giving in the first place.
    Ouch.

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  28. I have been reading these comments and feel sort of on the outside here. I work in the retail world, in fact I work at a store in which very expensive gifts are purchased. However what many may or may not know is that many retailers operate in the red until Q4 in which the transition is made into the black. The holidays are in Q4. However while I do believe that homemade gifts can be wonderful and love to bake people goodies I think there is a side that people are forgetting. In my line of work, I see people spend a lot of money on one gift. I then see the joy when the wife or husband comes back in and is so happy to have quality cookware for the first time in their life. Tonight I had a husband come in and he got an unexpected bonus at work and his wife is always wishing she had a set of good knives. So he bought them for her, the best. As I wrapped up his knife set (the price which I won’t post becuase it would make your mouth drop) he was like a kid in candy store, so excited. And I bet said wife is going to be very happy on christmas morning. Maybe she doesn’t really need good knives but she is going to be so surprised because she didn’t even know he got the bonus yet (he got it today) Gift giving is subjective, great gifts can be found in homemade items, items that triger memories or things that people might never buy themselves.
    I have kind of rambled, but the point of this response was to say that people don’t neccessarly check gift giving off their list and feed the economy because it is easier. Many people spend lots of time thinking of the gift and purchasing it. You all may not see it but I see it on a daily basis.

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  29. Such a wide range of expressions. I have really enjoyed reading them all. Formulating my thoughts in some meaningful way has been difficult, but I would like to add something. I think giving is good because it is modeled for us in our good God who has given the ultimate gift. Giving comes from who we are and what we have. I personally have always loved Christmas because it is a time of giving. His greatest gift I can never match. But there is a spirit about the season that I like. Sometimes I have given time, sometimes I have given from what I have made, sometimes I have spent money (maybe even too much) for some gift that seemed just right for the person. But always, as least as far as I can remember, I have enjoyed it. So I am glad I live in a culture in which it pervades even our economy at least once a year.

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  30. Caity, I actually don’t think buying gifts is easier. That’s my whole point. For me, it’s incredibly hard. It’s so hard that I hate it. I really admire people who are good at it and love it.

    And Dad, I think you’ve summed up beautifully what Bean was saying in the very first comment on this post. It’s what it gets back to and what I need to be reminded of. Gifts are good. God gave the ultimate gift and it was good. But you are also one of those people that I am jealous of (ahem…men) who just don’t really worry too much about what to get people. And when you do get something, you do it as an impulse on Christmas Eve and you really enjoy it. That’s what I need to do. And if it weren’t for the whole needing to ship things to far away people in time, I would. I am much better at last minute, impulse-type living.

    Maybe I don’t hate gifting. Maybe I hate planning.

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