FAIR WARNING, this WILL be a RANT, not a sweet little positive & upbeat post.
Now, I am the first to admit that I LOVE Christmas. The trees, the music, the festive holiday headwear, the festive holiday socks. You name it, I love it. I try to start shopping, or at least planning my shopping early. It annoys me to no end that along about the 4th of July, I begin seeing ornaments and decorations in stores. I'm not talking about the local Hallmark store that starts teasing about the upcoming ornament release. I'm not talking about the local craft store that starts having crafty stuff, because, frankly, if some things aren't started that early, they won't get made in time. I'm totally cool with that. I'm talking about going into the Garden Ridge and finding that while it's still 127 degrees outside, 25% of the store, right as you go through the door, has already been filled with this year's themed ornaments, inflatables, and various other Christmas stuff. The number of stores (aside from the aforementioned Hallmark & craft stores) that have at least 2 aisles dedicated to Christmas starts growing exponentially sometime in August, and it just doesn't stop. We're lucky if we get to Halloween before we start being bombarded by Christmas music. (again, don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas music. My IPod gets re-synced right before Thanksgiving to add my Christmas tunes, which amount to almost a gig and a half of the almost 19 gig which comprises my iTunes library). While I do have Christmas music on my iPod now, I won't even start using that playlist until at least sometime Thursday, and as we are headed down to TRF for the weekend, I suspect that we'll probably make more use of the "Faire" playlist than the Christmas one, at least on the drive down Thursday evening.
All of that being said, the week before Thanksgiving, and the weekend after drive me bananas! Yesterday I made my FINAL Thanksgiving week run to WalMart. Of course it was a madhouse, and fortunately, I only needed about 8 items, none of which are probably priority items for most folks, so I had no trouble finding them in plentiful supply, and my short list, coupled with my mostly empty basket afforded me the ability to go through the 20 items or less line. Thankfully, most of the folks who comprised that madhouse were NOT as prepared as I, thus they had overflowing baskets and were most definitely NOT candidates for the express lane. I understand that most people will discover, on Thursday morning or afternoon that they've forgotten SOMETHING that is necessary… butter, brown & serve rolls, napkins, toilet paper, something that they need to get through the day. I am totally cool with GROCERY stores being open PART of the day on Thanksgiving. I am NOT cool with the whole "shop WalMart ALL DAY on Thanksgiving". Seriously people? If you dislike your family so much that you want to be away from them on Thanksgiving, stay home & read a book, check into a hotel for the night, but what makes you think that your compulsive need to be at WalMart trumps the employees of WalMart's need to spend time with their family, on what could be their last day away from the store for the 32 days until Christmas? I don't work retail, and I haven't in more years than I care to consider, but I remember my mom doing it when I was a pre-teen. Back then, the Blue Laws were still in effect, so the stores she worked in (at the mall) weren't open on Sundays, but she worked every day except Sundays. I've had friends work retail, even if it was as a part-time 2nd job during the holidays, and from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, there were no days off. If OT was a concern, they just worked shorter hours every day, a 5-6 hour shift, instead of 8. Oh YAY, I don't have to be on my feet for 8 hours today, just 6, how awesome, and only 30 more days just like it to go… The very idea that we HAVE to start shopping in the middle of the night, when sane and rational people are at home asleep, in order to get one of the 5 televisions that will be offered at a deeply discounted price is preposterous to me.
- Number One: WalMart, Sears, and Kmart ALL have had layaway available for several weeks now. You could have put 10% down, paid some each week, and by mid-December you'd have your fancy tv without having to fight 25 other people to get it, then guard it with your life as you spent more time wandering through the store for other "deals" that you'll have to fight for as well.
- Number Two: If the only way you can have that behemoth tv is to fight 25 other people to get it for the discounted price, you probably should ask yourself if you can afford it in the long run. Remember when we didn't buy what we couldn't pay cash for? Yeah, that's how I've lived, aside from my car payment for many many years. Sure I have a handful of "toys", but I've saved up to buy each and every one of them. Are they the latest and greatest? Perhaps not, but they do meet my needs, and provide me with a little joy when I use them. The one who dies with the most toys IS STILL DEAD & DIDN'T GET TO TAKE THE TOYS WITH THEM.
- Number Three: Remember the days of the Blue Laws (as I understand it, many states still have them)? In Texas the only ones I know of still on the books are related to Liquor/alcohol and car dealerships. Back then, we could buy food on Sundays at the store, but if we needed plates or cups for those groceries to be served on, we were SOL. Back then, we managed to get our shopping done between Monday & Saturday at CLOSING time. I remember when places other than the drugstore, convenience store, or grocery first started being open on Sundays, they were open from Noon or 1 o'clock until 5, then it became 6. Hell, I remember when the grocery stores, WalMart, and gas stations/convenience stores CLOSED, what a novel idea, having actual BUSINESS HOURS, rather than just being open all the damned time. We managed to have whatever we needed bought during the prescribed hours, and if we didn't get it then, well, we did without until the store opened again.
My Black Friday will be spent at the Texas Renaissance Festival, with some of my very favorite people and fairemily. I think it sucks that so many of them have to forego a traditional Thanksgiving feast at home to be in rustic conditions and make ready for another workday. Rather than feeding the greed of Corporate America (I've got free tickets), I can do some of my Christmas shopping in support of the independent crafter/small business.
Places to check out:
Estelril Enterprises - a fabulous selection of lotions, gels, soaps, salves, incenses and bath salts, all made from ancient Native American and/or Celtic family recipes, using natural ingredients.
Fairely Well Maid - beautiful crochet, sewn, and tatted items
McCord Works - amazing crochet jewelry
Willow Creek Crochet - beautiful arm warmers available in a variety of sizes
Loime Studios - skirts made from upcycled fabric, various kinds of artwork
ClipClocks - Beautiful brooches and pins that have a hidden secret... they hold a clock!
Monkey Skull Craft Works - turned wood art: pens, candlesticks, bottlestoppers; and paracord survival bracelets
The Candle Cafe - amazingly well-scented candles, and truly the ONLY place I purchase candles for many years now