As is my custom, upon getting up in the morning, I make my wife's lunch, put on a pot of coffee, check e-mail, and quickly peruse some of the posts on my Facebook feed. This morning, I came across a question posed by my local newspaper.
The paper asks the question: "What are your thoughts about whether the Christmas/Holiday Season starts too early these days?" To me, the fact that the paper feels the need to even ask this question indicates that we have a problem.
It is said that the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. For me, the problem became clear when we began giving names to specific shopping days. The day after Thanksgiving was no longer a satisfactory identifier; we now call it Black Friday.
On the other hand, I suppose Black Friday is an apt moniker for this day as it shows the blackest, most base aspects of human nature. On what other day of the year could someone get trampled to death or beaten to a pulp all because of the competition for a $199 television or some $50 toy just out in time for Christmas and have the reaction almost be one of "Ho-hum, another typical Black Friday?"
Of course, online retailers don't want to get left out of this madness, so they have their own day. Cyber Monday sounds likes some sort of organized online protest or day-long computer code writing event, but no, it's simply another day with a name aimed at getting people to buy stuff for a few dollars less than they can get it for any other day of the year.
Less than a week after Halloween, the holidays ads have already begun, beginning with more general ads (such as the one I saw last night for Toys "R" Us) and ramping up toward more specific product ads as we approach Christmas. The Black Friday ads appealing to the inhumanity and insanity of shoppers should start hitting radio and television airwaves within a couple of weeks.
Of course, many of these ads are aimed at the youngest consumers, who have yet to learn that with the accumulation of stuff comes the need for a place in which to store said stuff. The more stuff we accumulate, the larger the place we need for storing those items.
As I write this, it occurs to me that shopping "holidays" such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while perhaps essential to the bottom lines of most retailers, have enabled and even encouraged many of us to become pack rats, as last year's hot item gets pushed into a dark corner of a closet to be replaced with this year's must-have new gadget.
I have noticed this in our own home. My son, has a robotic toy dog that he asked for and got for Christmas several years ago. He hasn't played with it for at least five years, except on those rare occasions when we come across it while trying to clean out his closet.
Our two-car garage is crammed so full of stuff we don't use (and don't need) that we can only park one car in it. That actually puts us ahead of many people who can't even get one car in their two or three-car garage. In the future, I suspect real estate listings will not mention garages at all. Instead, they will be featured as a "large on-site storage facility."
As I wrote earlier in this post, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. So let me be the first. I have a problem. I have too much stuff. What I am not sure of is the next step in the recovery process.