Friday, March 21, 2008

Right Now

I've been a little down on the whole commercialization of Christmas for quite some time now but this year has brought my disgust to new heights. It started way back before Thanksgivings, gosh, before Halloween even. Cause now the retailers are shoving Christmas trimmings and gaily wrapped gift baskets down our merry seeking throats before the Halloween decorations are marked 50 percent off. I was actually shocked that major retailers did not try to open on Thanksgiving day, but give them a year or two more and we will toss the turkey aside for the best deals of the season and long lines.

Soon after I became accustomed to seeing Christmas splayed out in front of me at every turn I was ambushed while grocery shopping by a selection of gift cards so outrageous I was forced to stop to and look. Here I was at That Other Superstore and I could buy a gift card for practically any well-known retailer. I think gift cards are an impersonal, almost rude gift choice as it is, but to not even have to make the special effort of driving to the store you wish to buy a gift card at is ludicrous. Are we that lazy, too busy, or is the price of gas just too high? It is all about convenience for the customer and the all-mighty buck for the retailer. Back in 2006 it was determined that "More than 10 percent of the $58.3 billion in gift cards bought this year won't be used, according to Needham, Mass.-based consulting-firm TowerGroup." The retailers are winning at both ends and because of it they are pushing the gift card revolution harder than ever. The message isn't even subtle anymore, the commercials are telling us straight out that "You can't pick the right gift, don't even try." And I thought getting Lotto tickets back in the 1990's was tacky.

Then to top it off the worst gift giving faux pas was e-mailed to me yesterday from an online book store that told me I could send an instant gift certificate right now. RIGHT NOW. Um, really, what kind of message does that give to the recipient? Either, "Oops I totally forgot about you so here you go," or "Fuck, I was not planning to get you anything and you had to go and get me a gift, go buy your own RIGHT NOW."

No matter how you look at there is nothing right about any of it. Whatever happened to homemade scarves and dreams of Red Ryder BB Guns?

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