Monday, December 26, 2011

Where are you going to put all that crap?

Over the weekend, I saw a lot of photos of wrapped stuff under trees (both real and artificial -  trees, not gifts) and wondered about the wretched excess that this holiday has become.  Rather than find that one thing that you think might make the holiday special, you have chosen to over-compensate and grab a bunch of stuff in the hopes that something will hit the target.

We buy people one birthday gift, yet we splurge on Christmas with tons of crap.  Explain.
Perhaps it reeks of sour grapes from my end, since my holiday contained neither tree nor wrapped stuff.  Nevertheless, it seems as though we (you) spend a lot of money on things that people either do not need nor want, and that is disconcerting.
The latest story from the Internet says that this holiday season might set a record for gift returns, costing retailers almost $47 billion.  One of the reasons they cite is that consumers decided that they didn't want to spend as much as they did.  That tells me that, out of obligation, they purchased things that they knew they couldn't pay for or afford, yet did so anyway.  After coming to their senses, the gifts were returned and some bogus reason was conjured.  That's sad.

Some retailers are tightening their return policies in advance of the post-Christmas rush. points out that Target, which used to allow 90 days for customers to return certain big-ticket items, now will only accept returns for 45 days after purchase. Toys-R-Us stores won't take back electronics if the packages have been opened. Both Target and Wal-Mart now only offer limited returns if you don't have a gift receipt. J.C. Penney, Macy's and Express require that "special-occasion" dresses be returned with the original tag still attached, in order to deter one-time wearing, and now has not one, but 30, different product-specific return policies.

They're onto you.  I'd guess that today and Tuesday, stores will be mobbed, not with shoppers, but ungrateful gift recipients who are returning things that they don't want.

One of the lasting memories from the days when I used to partake is the din of wrapping paper being dispensed as boxes were opened and things displayed.  In true "Seinfeld" tradition, the unwanted gifts were met with the exclamation of the name of the gift:  "Oh -- socks!"  In the pile they go.

Twenty-seven percent of people returning electronics admit that they wished they hadn't bought them in the first place. Just 5 percent of the people who wanted their money back said that the gadget didn't work -- but, after testing, two-thirds of those supposedly defective items were found to have been just fine after all.

It's a strange custom that you humans have.  You work yourself into a mad tizzy for a month agonizing over what to get for that "special someone" or that someone who isn't very special that you feel obligated to buy something for because "they always get me something."  I have made a giant leap this year in avoiding the holiday altogether, and I have been able to embrace my ignorance.  I don't have to do what society finds acceptable and I don't have to wear myself thin worrying about what other people think of what I think.

I don't understand you people.


junior alien said...

Should we i.e. I understand YOU?
When you have kids, you have no choice or rather you do, but you would have to be able to face the consequences of being regarded as a cruel spoilsport if you skipped Christmas.
And be honest: If you had kids, you would play the Christmas game, too.
By the way, socks CAN be nice if they are so special that you won't find them anywhere in the shops, such as my Mum's 100% woolen knitted socks with the craziest patterns.

Anthony said...

I'm not talking about skipping it. I'm talking about wretched excess.

If I had children, each would get one gift. If an iPad2 isn't enough for a kid, I don't know what the world is coming to.

If that makes me cruel, then so be it.

junior alien said...

I don't think that giving "only" one iPad2 would be cruel...

Every parent has to take over responsibility for their behavior towards the kids. And when the kids have grown up, they will confront you with any wrong behavior from your side. Hopefully they will!

Anthony said...

I'll be dead by then.