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Americans and Their Stuff

Aside from a trip to Costco, I didn't do much shopping over the weekend. There may be only 10 - I repeat - 10 shopping days left before Christmas, but I've been trying really hard to resist the impulse to run to the mall and buy more, well,  stuff. Everyone who might conceivably be on my list anyway has way too much already. Thankfully, my family has cut way back on the gift-giving thing. We only buy for the kids these days. And judging from their bulging closets and drawers, they have plenty.

As for friends, my closest girlfriends and I have been exchanging gifts for more years than I care to divulge. We've known each other since elementary school. To be honest, though, there are only so many picture frames, bottles of scented lotion, cute tops and whatnot that a person needs.

Frankly, I'm running out of ideas as to what to buy people  - not to mention the will to waste money on something that might not even be just the right gift anyway. These are scary economic times. Experts are predicting that there's a second wave of foreclosures looming, threatening to worsen an already bad situation. And no one seems to know exactly what 2009 will bring. That's why this piece by Anna Quinlan in Newsweek struck a chord with me when I read it. It's all about American's love of stuff and how it can obfuscates what's really important:

Hard times offer the opportunity to ask hard questions, and one of them is the one my friend asked, staring at sweaters and shoes: why did we buy all this stuff? Did anyone really need a flat-screen in the bedroom, or a designer handbag, or three cars? If the mall is our temple, then Marc Jacobs is God. There's a scary thought.

Meanwhile, the has an interesting piece on how those who aren't worried about being laid off of jobs or downsizing are requesting plain bags so as to downplay the fact that they are still shopping 'til they drop. They call the practice "secret shopping" and  claim it's been going on for awhile now. See, the rich really are different from you and I. Because if I buy anything at Tiffany's or Hermes, believe me, I want the shopping bag, the tissue paper and anything else that comes with it.