Our Town: Why we buy gifts during Christmas

Our Town: Why we buy gifts during Christmas
"Has commercialism gone too far?

Tis the season to be jolly.

Holiday songs are being piped into every store you enter, the neighbors have all put up there Christmas lights and if you enter Hick’s Nursery you are sure to enjoy the scent of evergreens.

It’s impossible to forget what time of year it is. It’s time to go shopping for presents to put under the tree. Over the years   I have figured out how to handle the gift-giving process pretty well.

The first thing I always do is pay down my credit card balance so as not to get into that embarrassing experience of a salesperson smiling at you as they say “Sorry sir, there seems to be something wrong with your card, it keeps getting rejected. Do you have another card we might try?”

So I’ve learned to pay down the balance of the cards before I go shopping. There is nothing that will get you out of the holiday spirit as fast as the embarrassment of being looked at like a real loser who has no money.

After paying off my card I immediately go shopping for myself. I came up with this idea years ago when I grew tired of receiving underwear, socks and another set up pajamas.

Like the Rolling Stones once warned me in song “You can’t always get what you want.” So now I get what I want by buying it myself, putting in under the tree and then opening it on Christmas morning.

But of course, we have not yet addressed the question of what to buy ones spouse, siblings, children, friends and business associates.

If you happen to be alone and friendless during this holiday season, take heart because you’ll be saving yourself a small fortune in gift purchases. That may sound Grinch like but it’s true.

Naturally, I was late to do my shopping this year and so this  Sunday I rushed down to the Miracle  Mile in Manhasset to grab some items.

Based upon the fully crammed parking lot filled with Mercedes and BMWs, the economy appears to be booming once again.  The first store I entered was Ralph Lauren where I bought myself one of those Irish tweed caps and a matching pair of gloves. That took care of my gifts.

But then it was time to shop for my significant other. I walked into Loro Piana’s, the specialty boutique that sells those high-priced cashmere sweaters and coats.

Two very pleasant saleswomen offered me some sparking water and began showing me some pretty soft-looking sweaters.

As they displayed the sweaters on the countertop, my eyes flashed on the price tag ($3,100) for this lovely pink sweater with a hood.  I was uncertain that I saw the price correctly and maybe it was going for $310, not $3,100.

So I sheepishly asked what the sweater cost. One said, “Oh let me look… This one sells for $3,100.”

My mind quickly lurched forward and I asked about the gorgeous coats on the far wall. The more experienced saleswoman could see that this may be a waste of her precious time and she said “All of the coats start at about $7,500 each.”

I told them thanks and that I would probably return later in the afternoon but I had to do more shopping.

I slouched my way down the shopping center and walked into Burberry’s where I was greeted by another smiling saleswoman who asked if she could help me. I must have had a bewildered look on my face and she said “You are looking for some holiday gift for your wife right?  Just follow me.”

She proceeded to show me some boots (price $1,200) some capes (price $1,350) and some coats (price $1,900).

These numbers were child’s play for me after my experience at Loro Piana’s and I immediately took a liking to this saleswoman.  But of course, at this point, I was in a mild state of traumatic shock following the Loro Piana affair and I knew from my readings that one should never make a decision when you are in shock, even if it’s sticker shock.

I bid adieu to the saleswoman at Burberry’s and after picking up some soothing tomato soup at Cippolini’s I drove back to my office with the idea that I would do my shopping sometime during the week.

But then I came up with an even better idea. I began to think about the purpose of gift-giving.

Primarily a gift represents two things. It means that you sacrificed hard-earned money out of love. In addition, the gift represents enhanced status for the person who receives it. If you give someone a Ferrari or a Lamborghini as a Christmas gift and they drive it around, their status rises quickly.

So instead of wasting hard-earned cash on crass commercial status-elevating gifts, maybe I could use my writing ability to send my spouse a beautiful heartfelt poem instead.

I recall someone saying the pen is mightier than the sword. Perhaps this applies to credit cards as well. The savings would be impressive.

Let’s give this cost-saving effort a try. All I needed to do was come up with some sweet rhymes like Dr. Seuss used to do. After pondering this deeply here is what I came up with.

“My Gift to You this Xmas Day”.      

My gift to you this Xmas day,

Is not of cashmere, gold or mink,

My gift to you will be in ink,

For ink’s as good as gold or mink.

The pen will save me on this morn,

Will save me cash but not some scorn.

So, yes it is best  to shop and spend,

Or else risk wrath from wife and friend. ”

Dr. Tom Ferraro

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