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Selling Season

Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009, at 10:38 AM

The Christmas selling season begins long before the shopping season, to wit:

Over 15 years ago, I drove for a delivery service in St. Louis. One day during the week between Christmas and New Years, I was dispatched to an advertising agency where we picked up a Christmas toy display complete with plastic Santa Claus and took it to an area photographer. After waiting for the display to be photographed, it was returned to the agency. It was the beginning of the promotion for the following Christmas for a toy not yet even put into production. The Christmas selling season had begun.

Ever since the 1920s the Christmas shopping season in this country has "officially" begun the day after Thanksgiving, long called "Black Friday." The name for the day had to do with the statistical fact retailers didn't make a profit for the year unless they did well during the Christmas season. This was the day they hoped to get into the black (profit) as opposed to the red (loss).

I do remember my mother explaining this to me one year. Her reason at the time, however, was that mothers could take their kids shopping -- being the only day we'd be off of school. It was also the first day "Santa's helpers" would be in town.

Seems like in recent years the idea of "Black Friday" has taken on a more sinister meaning. Now the day starts at 12:01 a.m., and involves frenzy to the point of violence in a national effort to spend more money than has been earned in the preceding 12 months. I like my mother's explanation better.

Personally, shopping is not one of those things at which I am very good. A fact for which there are some very good reasons:

Primarily, what I encompass in physical infirmities is well supplemented by financial inadequacies.

Besides, there is (or ought to be) a rule by which women shop and men buy. I do all right if I know what I need and go to get that one thing. Two or more things leave me confused and struggling.

The other aspect is that I just don't need much, and want less, to need to shop. Did think I needed a tie once, asked one of my four "favorite" daughter-in-laws to do the shopping part. This was mostly a case of not having very good taste in such things. Turned out to be not as much of a need as postulated; I very rarely go any place requiring usage of a tie (are there any such places left?).

Overall I feel I can justifiably skip the current shopping season, I've gotten so old no one expects much from me. Our children are all grown, the grandchildren will get much more than is really good for them, and grandma (a.k.a. Kay) will probably do my share of shopping. Thus I feel relieved of any obligation to seek unneeded things, stuff, and/or any other nonessentials. This leaves me free (perhaps the last man on earth to be so liberated) to just give the gifts I truly want to give. This Christmas I have two in mind, neither requiring actual shopping myself.

Selling season starts the day after Christmas. Wonder what new excuses I can come up with by then to escape the next shopping season?



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