I spent most of my adult life not living in the Western world. I'm not suggesting that I am more enlightened than your average North American because of this but there are a few aspects of Western society that seem extremely ridiculous once you are are on the outside looking in. The pandemonium that happens from "Black Friday" onward is one of the main ones.
There are a lot of factors that lead to the people in South East Asia not beating strangers to death over a sale on a television. One of them is certainly the very real lack of affluence in this country. It could be Buddhism, or maybe people are just generally too polite over here to ever do soemthing like that. One thing is for certain though: I have never, in my 15 years of living here, seen a group of people go absolutely mental and turn into tribal warriors at 5am over a sale at Tesco.
I never participated in this madness, even when i lived in the States. I'm not going to suggest that I am above that sort of thing, I just don't like waking up early... never have... I was the one kid in my family that didn't even want to wake up early on Christmas day and had to be roused by my sisters to get the party started.
I think that everyone, even those who are directly responsible for the psychotic atmosphere that inevitably arises on "Black Friday" can say that it is absurd. But lets move on to another point that I believe is more prevalent: The massive amount of money spent on gifts.
Studies suggest that the average American will spend $650 on Christmas gifts.
This amount has seen an upward trajectory over time and while some of it can be attributed to inflation, mostly people are simply buying more stuff. We are being duped into spending an absolute fortune and for some people, it is money the don't even have and credit card debt rises immensely during the holiday period.
When I was in college, I, like most college students, didn't have much in the way of money. Most of the money I did have went into spending on booze and if there was anything left, a bit of food.
However, every year during Christmas I would load up the car with dozens of gifts for people that I only see once a year and therefore know very little about. Basically, this was all going to end up being crap that they wont even use.
Despite the fact that I routinely had difficulty in paying my rent at the time, this tradition could not be done away with. There was a lot of pressure to make certain that you had as many gifts for your family members as they had for you. We all look back on it now and just think of how wasteful that all was.
It was a wonderful year when after yet another spending of thousands of dollars and a living room filled with wrapping-paper detritus that my mother had a breakfast announcement: This was to be the final year that any of us were going to purchase gifts for one another. Instead, we would take a family vacation to a ski resort for a few days and each of us would chip in, the lion's share being on my mom and dad's shoulders.
Christmas from that point forward was looked forward to just as much but now none of us had to be stressed out, wandering around Bath and Body works on the 22nd because pretty much everyone everyone loves soap and candles.
In Thailand as well as all the surrounding countries, they recognize the importance of Christmas, but with the exception of expat families who still have one foot in their home country, there is very little in the way of gift-giving excess. Schools are open on the 25th and maybe their will be a special meal. For most people it is just another day though.
This could have a lot to do with the fact that your average Thai family doesn't even make $650 a month but I also think that the corporate sponsors haven't managed to sink their claws into the populace just yet. They certainly do try but for the most part these "holiday sales" are not going to have much impact on your average shopping mall in Chiang Mai.
What about you? Does your family go cuckoo for Christmas? My life for the past decade has never involved a single gift purchase for anyone and honestly, while i don't want to poo poo on anyone's parade, i think overall things are better because of it.
I have never wanted anything bad enough to bother braving the crowds on those big shopping days and for anyone today who does want to take advantage of the sales and avoid the crowds, just shop online 😂😂 https://media1.giphy.com/media/3o6Ztn0qgT0OJ5nEAM/source.gif
Nigerians have adopted the practice and I must add that it is such a farce. The companies inflate their price then slash it till its just higher, lower or about the normal market price. The only winner is the company. Personally, I wish I was the company making a ton of profit off suckers; perfect form of capitalism, if you ask me
All I can say is that Americans are nuts lol
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You should have seen the traffic here in the city on Fridaynight. It was like everything was for free. Sickening it is on how all of a sudden you are so pushed in a direction to buy stuff. Im with you on this one: collect memories, not stuff
It is so sad that Christmas are reduced by many to shopping madness and gifts. In some countries it's not even called Christmas. It's a Holiday Season so people wouldn't get offended by even a slight suggestion that time is or was related to something else than a shopping madness ;-) Most of my close family, fortunately, is immune to this madness.
I do get my parents and sister presents. But, the presents are always "selfmade" since a couple of years - Mostly high quality calendar prints from my top 12 photos I took during the year. And they handle it similar in always presenting me books for things I'm interested in. So it's less the material value than a real use case value.
With your points about Thailand I agree. Even Thai people do love being in shopping malls - They won't kill each other for some crazy sells.
Thai people take it more easy. One funny thing I figured out is that almost every Thai person knows their Lotus or what ever membership number :D So they just collect their points with all calmness. Makes me always smile seeing it in the shops :D
I am American born but I do not belong in this society or era. The senseless material and consumerism is outrageous. Don't get me wrong modern technology is great and I would be less happy without my smart phone and laptop. I just do not have a need for rooms full of crap that I might have used once.
I think what your parents did is the right way to do things. A family holiday bringing everyone together is far more important than presents. I went to go buy something at a black Friday event a few years ago and never again and ended up going to another shop paying the normal price to get away from the crowds.I am not that tight to stand in a queue to save a few bucks as my time is more valuable than that and like you my sleep is more important.
I'm glad to see more people resisting the consumerism of Christmas. When I think of all the gifts that have piled up over the years, just sitting around until we throw them away... On the other hand the wife and I have been pretty frugal about it. For the most part we get each other gifts the household needs, and occasionally a book or two. For example, a couple of years ago she got me a hedge trimmer for clearing out the brush around here. (And then I think she's actually used it more than I have.)
My wife and a few of my cousins went out on Friday, but just bought a few things for ourselves. Things we needed like work shoes and such. Spent more on beer and food afterwards. We don’t participate in the madness you see on tv. No thanks. We get up and go to the mall after noon when the place is empty. It’s just something to do after we awake from our lazy turkey trance. I didn’t even go in two stores this time, but man do I love to PEOPLE WATCH!! Excellent time and place to do it. Hehe. We stopped buying gifts a long time ago. My wife and I will spend a few hundred dollars on each other but that’s not hard to do today and given the cost of things in New Jersey. We buy the pups a little something too! Can’t resist that!! Haha. The family trip was a good plan. My sister and her family head out to Breckinridge a few times per year including Christmas. They love it. Too damn cold for me. Hahahahaha
Consumerism , especially pre, during and post Xmas is something I abhore as it adds little to life inventory or social productivity.
Nevertheless, I wouldn't concede that consumers are being "duped"!!
We used to more so when I was a kid. Not as much anymore. I have never participated in Black Friday shopping. Though the deals appear to be good, a lot of the stuff are things I would never buy anyway, so are the deals really that good when you are spending money on stuff you don't need? I have went shopping the day after Christmas a couple of times with my wife, but it isn't something I enjoy. I might write a post about it sometime. Now for the most part we just buy gifts for our nieces and nephews, but we really prefer taking them to concerts and musicals because they already have enough stuff. Spending time with them on a experience has a more lasting impact.