Don’t Shop Til You Drop

August 22, 2011 § 7 Comments

“Slow down, you move too fast

You gotta make the morning last

Just kickin’ down the cobblestones

Lookin’ for fun and

Feelin’ groovy …”

That verse certainly won’t be found in any jingles from major retailers stocking and promoting Christmas gifts in August.

They are words, admittedly, from the much simpler times of 1966 when Simon and Garfunkel recorded the 59TH Bridge Street (Feelin’ Groovy) song on their Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme album.

Thinking of the rush toward Christmas that’s already begun and taking it easy on this Sunday four months ahead of The Big Day had me musing over the word thyme and its homophone (words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings) partner time.

It seems no matter how much people vow each year to slow down and spend less on gift giving, many still get caught up in the Christmas shopping vortex earlier and earlier and spend more and more money.

No wonder kids are hardly done opening the newest version of electronic gaming gadgetry they received at Christmas (which was of no surprise since they’d lobbied for months) than they are clamouring for the latest and greatest of something else.

Are we really surprised when much of the mound of nicely wrapped presents on Dec. 25 becomes clutter within days?

A rant about excesses at Christmas is an old one that needs no further comment other than the increasing craze over one day of the year is symptomatic of the rest of life for those who let it.

Many of us seem to try to pack one more thing in our lives yet always think fondly of the simpler times, like the quick vacation or the spontaneous dinner out.

Who relishes the maxed-out credit card bill in January?

It blows my mind when I’m channel surfing and I see shows like Say Yes to the Dress and the wearing apparel being considered costs more than my entire wedding. Of course, I’ve been married 25 years now and I wonder how many of the couples on the show will still be wed a quarter century later.

It all seems to start out with graduation in kindergarten and by the end of elementary school, the expectation of an elaborate celebration has gone crazy. Getting only about half way through basic education warrants a gala bash with participants driven in a limo?

It’s no wonder kids want to be teenagers all too quickly, rush off to post-secondary education, often before they are ready, and can’t wait to become of age.

By 30, many people have sped through the first third of their lives without taking the chance to smell the roses … and by then, they are stuck in a routine.

Am I being a grumpy old man about this? I don’t think so. I like a party just as much as anyone and as age 51 is calling my name, I am still at a point where I think of all the things there are left to accomplish.

It just seems we build up expectations for big moments earlier and earlier in our lives and those of younger generations so nothing is really THAT special anymore.

As I was writing this blog, I saw this quote on a friend’s twitter post: “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” ~ Ancient Chinese Proverb.

Do these wise words and my commentary provide conflicting viewpoints? Absolutely not! There is a difference between enjoying and thriving on a fast pace and having your life spinning out of control so we lose sight of what’s important.

We really can pack one less meeting or email into a day. We can call an old friend out of the blue or take an impromptu Sunday drive. We don’t NEED to shop until we drop.

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§ 7 Responses to Don’t Shop Til You Drop

  • Andrea says:

    Such a timely post David, thank you for doing this. I have actually found my life too chaotic lately, thanks to the accessibility of my life and others through social media. This past weekend I unplugged – literally. No tweets, no texts, no emails, just me time. And it felt good. I went for walks. I had dinner with friends. And the entire time I focused on the actual people in front of me and the conversations, not the disjointed social life that I feel the need to check every minute on Twitter. You’re right, we’re letting life pass by too quickly without stopping to relish it. I’m making a promise to myself to do more of that and less being “linked in”.

  • Karri Flatla says:

    This sums up how commercialism, greed, speed and a trophy culture has pretty much rendered Christmas — and gift giving — meaningless. And yeah, the public school system is socializing children to believe they should get a sticker/prize/treat/reward for showing up and learning a few things.

    When I was a child, whether it was a lean Christmas or a bountiful one, my father insisted we take turns to open gifts, not just ransack the tree for five minutes and then walk away. We savored the ritual and meaning of gift giving itself. It was incredibly special to me and my sister. To this day I’m appalled by the way gift giving — and the true *spirit* of generosity in general — has been trivialized.

    Thanks for posting this. I’m sharing it with everyone I know.

    • davidolinger says:

      Thanks, Karri. My post was actually prompted by others mentioning that stores had already begun their Christmas shopping routine. I was oblivious as I think I have actually become desensitized to commercialism around Christmas.

      I guess it’s like anything, you don’t have to participate in the frenzy if you don’t want to and there are people who legitimately budget their gift buying throughout the year. I also know people who buy something for virtually everyone in their lives, which is incredibly generous, but for some of those, it’s really not where the priority should be.

      I welcome you to share this blog with your friends. The purpose of our blogs is to build content toward a book(s). The thoughts of others will add fabric and texture to our own.



  • Karri Flatla says:

    Well you won me over with “Getting only about half way through basic education warrants a gala bash with participants driven in a limo?” Young adults believe the answer to responsibility being placed on them is “But what do I get?” Somehow we need to refocus on encouragement and communication rather than giving people more *stuff* to show our love. Yet we keep stampeding the stores …

  • davidolinger says:

    I won you over with my sarcasm! Yaay. But all this has led to people thinking they should make management type wages just out of university and athletes who will sit out a part or all of a season, even under contract, to push for a new pact. What happened to agreeing to play for X amount and sticking to the word you would follow through by virtue of your signature?!

    • Karri Flatla says:

      EXACTLY. I remember when applying for/interviewing for a new job was a BIG deal. You know … you felt like you were the one who needed to impress the boss, sit up straight, shine your shoes, communicate the value you fully intended to DELIVER. Now young people walk into a corporate setting and all that’s on the tip of their tongues is “What kind of special treatment do I get if I show up here?” rather than “Here’s how I can make an excellent contribution.”

      Oh man … maybe this is a whole other topic. LOL 🙂

  • davidolinger says:

    Yes, Karri, looks like we are co-writing a future blog topic! LOL

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