Grandma got run over by a reindeer on her way to Kohl's at 3 a.m on Black Friday. Don't ask me why the store was open and how come employees don't revolt, but, oh, of course, it's the nation's most-celebrated phony holiday.
Ah but not for me! I'm certain a lot of my peers have ceased/curtailed/kinda walked away from their shopping habits. And so I thought I'd share my rules on how to live your life during an era when buying is hardly in fashion and stuffing your money under the Tempur-Pedic is the way to happiness (or at least easier breathing).
1. Don't ever go to "drugstores". Rite Aid, Duane Reade, Walgreen's, et al, are built to make us believe we're there for a single item but grab us at every angle. It's a bad habit to get into--and you know they sell every single item made under the sun. CVS has an "As Seen On TV" aisle that is both hilarious and sickening.
2. Get a credit card you can't memorize and keep it somewhere forgettable. Cancel/cut up the ones you know by heart. It's a fact: cards you know by heart make you buy whim items you regret sooner than later. I wonder why Amazon promotes its rush-to-you policy ("Amazon. And You're Done.") when most of us hatedthe products we buy too quickly. Why would a store want us to resent them? This holiday season, don't click.
3. Think like Larry David--or WWLD. Larry's Curb character used every reason possible to avoid gift-giving. Excuses "R" Us.
4. Stay home. Read books you already own (Dorothy Parker is always fun this time of year). Talk to someone you already live with. The TV will get you in trouble so don't watch the ads...well, you know that already. Television is a drug. It promotes more watching of television. Which demands you buy more of everything. Must. Stop. I won't say stay offline since that works against me.
5. Malls, shmalls. Only in extreme circumstances should anyone walk into a large arena that holds stores. (Though, to be fair, some of the best known restaurants are in strip malls--what a country.) Here's a tip: Instead of buying a Frapp at Starbucks, drink coffee from local diners, where the part-time, snide baristas become wholesome, helpful servers!
6. It isn't a bargain when you buy more than one. And anything that seems too good to be true...was manufactured in a country we can't pronounce. This isn't an ad for "Buy American"-- I'm saying your toothpaste is a knockoff.
7. Laugh at, instead of read, newspaper circulars that promise heaven on earth. Those loud brochures offer magical deals: the glory of bundling so it appears you get something for nothing. I bought a Canon camera that if purchased that second came with a printer...that prints crappy photos. It is the world's largest doorstop.
And 8. Carefully steer clear of carefully designed multi-page supplements in magazines proclaiming products some editor decided we can't go another day without. Screw it. Every gadget and cream will be replaced by a newer and creamier gadget by the time spending is fashionable. Each Apple product will be updated by the time you finish reading this.
I live by a credo: There is nothing worth splurging on when money is tighter than Boehner's fist. What was once called retail therapy is the new binge drinking. Take a trip into your drawers and closets and find everything you purchased when you *had money* --try them on or play with them. Read them. Listen to, lie on them, or bounce them around. It's like reacquainting yourself with a friend you forgot about...a slap-in-face reminder why constantly shopping for what you don't need leads to the world's most difficult moving day!
All this Christmas spending is for chumps. This is American Sacrilege that I make no bones about. If Jesus arrived this second he'd be like: "Cut the crap. Buying is not in my image. Ok I like the songs, thanks, but those umpteen 'holiday' channels on SiriusXM are ruining it for me with those repeat playlists. And Jose Feliciano's monotone is not cheerful."
Best. Gift. Ever? If you don't walk through a single shop threshold and you won't be subjected to a bone-chilling Jingle Bells or insipid I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa. [Earplugs for elevators are a must.]
With that cheery note I must end this like every sit-com's heartwarming last act: Give to sweet, sweet charity--where money ought to travel effortlessly--to life-affirming nonprofits like CaringBridge that desperately need, and thankfully deserve, any shekels you can spare, brother. I guarantee it is the meaning of the sappy holiday. That, and getting drunk at parties.
To all stores I wish good night. And to the people I say: give shopping a rest, ye merry gentlemen.
[Buy my book: 2011: Trendspotting. Yes, I get the irony.]