Steve Hansen: Focus more on the joy of giving

hansen mug

By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

Monday was Cyber Monday. This came after Small Business Saturday, which followed Black Friday (the real one).

Oh, by the way, the day before that was Thanksgiving.

To watch American media, including the Internet, you would think our only thoughts between Halloween and Christmas were about merchandise, that the only thing on our minds was the savings we’d achieve by spending more money than we have on things many of our friends and family don’t really want or need.

The big, brown bird, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, veggies, cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie were an afterthought. We powered through that meal, it seems, only so we could race to our SUVs and experience the fullness of Black Friday on Thanksgiving afternoon, pausing at the mall only for a gluten-free Pumpkin-Spice Soy Chai Latte Frappe at the coffee shop with the noncommittal red cups.

Only one merchandiser I’m aware of publicly told the Great American Hype Machine to hang it up for the one weekend a year many overworked, underpaid Americans can count on receiving two full workdays off, which should be for enjoying their families, not desperate shopping frenzies.

That merchandiser was REI, which sells high-end outdoor gear. REI asked people, especially its employees, not to buy or sell their stuff on Black Friday but to go out and use it.

REI wouldn’t be an American business if it didn’t tie its merchandising message into its Black Friday closing, but still, its gesture was kind and as meaningful a gift to its employees as its priciest pair of hiking boots.

It’s an acknowledgment, hopefully just a little ahead of its time, that we’re becoming as sick from being force-fed advertising, promotion and pressure to buy as a French foie gras goose.

Thoughtful gift-givers will take the time to figure out what the people on their gift list really want and take the time to find it, even if it means names get crossed from the list.

Consumers should remind themselves sometimes that the holidays should be about the joy of giving, not the guilt of not giving enough fast enough.

Everyone but major retailers’ shareholders are likely to appreciate the resulting slowdown.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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