Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WTF?! What the hell is wrong with the retail industry?

It's October 16th.  It's autumn.  The season of the harvest.  A season of change.  Gorgeous foliage.  Cool nights and warmer days.  Halloween!  A time for tricks, treats, costumes and parties.  I love dressing up!  Kids love dressing up!  The candy... eh.  We'd all be better off without the excuse and plethora of bad for you treats, but yeah, I get it, tradition.  It's no secret my drug of choice is chocolate!

So why the f@*k is it Christmas in the stores?!

I got a chuckle out of a friend's Facebook post yesterday.  She wanted to sneak into a store and take down the Christmas decorations.  She had a lot of support!  Who is in?  I am!

It got me thinking.  It didn't used to be this bad.  When I was a kid, the holidays and seasons were not rushed.  They were actually celebrated in order and timely!  We were allowed to enjoy the CURRENT season and holiday before having the next one shoved down our throats by the stores and media.  You could actually find a good selection of Halloween costumes the week before.  Now, if you haven't gotten it by early September, you are left paying a small fortune or having a meager selection.  Now, they are practically sold out and picked over and the Christmas trees and lights are overtaking the stores.

It's only October and by the time the snow starts to fly, it will be difficult to find winter clothes and boots!  If you are not a compulsive planner, it's nearly impossible to live in the moment.  We're being forced to live months in the future.  People don't enjoy the here and now.  The beauty of the day and season is lost because they are thinking about the next thing 3 months away.

OK.  Maybe 'forced' is a strong word.  Sure, we can choose to ignore it.  I try.  I am not a huge fan of shopping and I avoid the stores if I can from Halloween-Christmas.  I watch a local cable news channel and Dancing With the Stars and that's pretty much it, so I limit my media exposure and that of my children, significantly.  Still, if I want boots, I need to buy them now!  I don't want them now! I don't need them now!

It makes me wonder, what sort of values and expectations are we creating for our children?  Especially those who are exposed to the media blitz (don't even get me started on the inappropriateness of THAT) and are at stores all the time with shop-a-holic parents or those teens who are mall rats.  The history, meaning and tradition of the holidays is getting lost.  It's becoming all about the 'stuff'.  Everything is more costly.  It's about making money for the stores, having the best costume (that may cost a small fortune and they will outgrow in 2 weeks), throwing the best party and the shopping for the best deals.

Especially in this economy, the rushing of the seasons can be downright depressing.  It's not helping families living paycheck to paycheck, who are being lured by the 'sales' and 'deals'.  Retailers count on impulse buys and begging children to pad their bottom line.

What happened to families trick or treating together instead of mini-van drop offs?  What happened to Thanksgiving?!  Now it's Black Friday that gets all the press.  I remember Thanksgiving being the FIRST time we heard Christmas music on the radio or in our homes and I looked forward to it.  I remember it being about spending time with family.  Playing games.  Relaxing for the long weekend.  Not about running out the door for midnight sales!

I think we need to steer our families and our kids back in the direction of history and tradition.  Avoid getting caught up in the tsunami of retail rushing of the seasons.  We all need to take a step back and think about why we are doing what we are doing.  Remember why Halloween is celebrated.  Why Thanksgiving is not about shopping.  That the religious holidays of all faiths are about the stories of the time, not about the gifts!  It's about time with friends and family.  Reconnecting.  Celebrating together.  Not the shopping!!!

Life is too damn short to rush through it.  While we're so busy thinking about the next thing, we're missing what's happening right here, right now.  It may be all we have!  If someone in my family doesn't wake up tomorrow, I'm pretty sure I'd regret trying to get the best deal on a gift instead of spending quality time as a family TODAY.   We're creating stress, time management issues and teaching our children rushing everything is the best way to get it done.  It's not!

We have a huge responsibility to teach our children about the world.  How it's changed, how to navigate it and how to grow up to be functional humans with core values about doing the *right* thing.  We need to give them the skills to function in the here and now.  Sure, planning is important.  But living in the future serves no one.  Society (in this case, the retail industry) has a way of making our tasks as parents more daunting and complicated than it should be.

So, hey, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Did you see the gorgeous sunrise yesterday?  Have you listened to the rustle of the leaves blowing in the wind?  Have you noticed the gorgeous foliage?  Have you seen a wooly bear caterpillar?!  I did!  I even poked it like Meg used to so it curled up in a ball and said "patter-pillar, patter-pillar"!  Have you noticed is smells like fall?

Go forth and be present in the moment today.  Use all of your senses.  Let me know how it goes.  :-)

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