Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Christmas season started for me on December 21st, almost a month after Black Friday and weeks after many already maxed out their credit cards. I went to a big box store. It was late and I already had a long day that started before 4am. The ship and I had been at sea, almost continuously, for a month, and  we quietly pulled into port.   As I made my last Christmas purchases- mostly premeditated with a few impulse decisions, I was bumped into by other weary shoppers hustling like Olympic sprinters. 

They used to say that once the crowd talks about the stock market, it’s time to sell. But the post-election stock market surge kept good times rolling. So much so that one guy told me that his stock market gains were larger than his paycheck. I congratulated him on behalf of Uncle Sam, who appreciates the hard work of passive income by giving a lower tax rate. 

Conspicuous consumption is back, with new products to “solve” the problems of the rich and “mass affluent”. You can see a stream of “Happy Holiday” ads that make you forget the reasons for the season (the Temple in Jerusalem for Jews or Christ’s Birth for Christians), not to mention songs about bigger and better presents. 

The millennials have more enlightened  spending habits; they prefer to spend on priceless and timeless experiences. Plane tickets to visit faraway family?  It’s important. I whipped out a credit card, rented a car, loaded it with my Christmas trinkets, and drove home.  I spent two wonderful days with my family; now it was time to plan for an unforgettable New Year’s. Should I bring the nice secondhand Italian suit; or is that overkill for Norfolk, I thought? As I was driving back to work for a shift on Christmas Day, I heard a song that I haven’t heard before. Amazing, since it played the year I was born. The song was called “The Gift”, by Garth Brooks, and its protagonist is a poor orphan girl named Maria:

“There were diamonds and incense and perfumes in packages fit for a king;
but for one ragged bird in a small cage Maria had nothing to bring...
Just then the midnight bells rang out and the little bird started to sing
A song that no words could recapture, whose beauty was fit for a king”.

Merry, Joyous, Christmas to all.

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