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MICHAELS: The Christmas creep and dodging other consumer landmines

August 29, 2019 - 12:00 PM



Hardcore panting in my ear caused some serious Tuesday night consternation.

My six-year-old was just told he’d get one Star Wars LEGO set to offset the three buckets of toys he’d long since outgrown — yet until that point was refusing to let go of — so we could pass them down to a younger family member.

The panting came out like so; “Toys ‘r’ Us, *dramatic-and-potentially-worrisome-wheeze-wheeze* Amazon, Chapters. Let’s go online and look at what we can get.”

Drama runs deep in his veins. So does consumerism.

My husband’s 30-year-old sandals and the way they give me the Victorian-era vapours as soon as he shoves his pedicure-needing feet into them indicate both tendencies are likely pulled from my end of the genetic pool. So it’s less about him than it is me when I say, it’s super screwed up.

Shop-o-mania, however, is hard to avoid for the generation raised on commercial-laden Saturday morning cartoons. Probably others, too.

Just last weekend on a mission to buy enough cereal and coffee to feed my three-person village for a week or seven, the lure of seasons yet to dawn taunted me — ‘spend now, Michaels. Spend now or regret,’ said the ghost of shopping-holidays future.

It hit halfway through Costco when I was face-to-face with shiny miniature superhero costumes. Immediately I feared that my poor little human would be left out, felt to feel a fool, missed out on the garish traditions of Hallow’s eve if I simply didn’t buy-buy-buy.

Would it be Batman (again) or what about a firefighter — they’re big around these parts?

Were there small girl-humans in my life I should get a strangely short-skirted and bedazzled Wonder Woman outfit for?

No to it all, I decided. If a garbage bag smock and a pointy hat were good enough for me, there’s no reason he can’t have the same luxury.

I’d barely had enough time to pat myself on the back and there was another challenge.

Still wearing sandals, and a sunhat, I found myself face-to-face with reindeer, Christmas LEGO and an assortment of other holiday treats, months before decking the halls is even remotely appropriate. 

Luckily, even I found this a bit unpleasant and mission-cereal and coffee was completed with very little extra expense.

It did, however, remind me that retailers are getting a bit intense with the Christmas Creep and that it takes a bit of conscientious navigation of the world around me to not be swept up in the worst kind of mindless consumerism.

This is easier to do as I get older, but teaching it is more challenging than I expected. It is, however, a challenge that is worth embarking on, and in little ways we do every day.

We choose experiences over goods, time over money spent most of the time, but sometimes a small LEGO set gets popped in the cart alongside some good educational material. Maybe it's happening too often.

For that reason, I suppose, the hot breath of greed being blown into my ear Tuesday was a good reminder to stay strong during this season of retail intensity — after Luke Skywalker is added to the now empty bins, that is. May the force be with me.

— Kathy Michaels is an editor and reporter for

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