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Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

The never ending cycle of re-gifting

In Children and Family, Economy, Holiday, Opinion, Uncategorized on December 22, 2016 at 11:47 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAll right, admit it. At one time or another, you’ve re-gifted something you received during the holidays – maybe even the same year! We’ve all done it, as distasteful and classless as it sounds.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what it means to re-gift something. You know, when you take something you got as a Christmas present but you find it either so useless or terrible you pass it along to someone else – often because either you dislike the person or forgot to include them on your gift list. Usually, it gets passed off as something new, rather than the holiday gift version of the hand-me-down.

Probably the most re-gifted items are fruitcakes or some type of pre-boxed gift sets. You know the type, a mix of cologne and after shave, or perfume and powder. They line the center aisle or end caps near the checkout waiting to catch the attention of the last-minute shopper who forgot Aunt Sallie or the coworker in the next cubicle.

fruitcakeAs I was thinking about this piece, I decided to around for suggestions about what kinds of things were frequently re-gifted by friends and co-workers and I got quite an array. The list included mashed potato-scented candles, gargoyle-encrusted picture frames, pine cone nightlight, super-cheap fleece throw blankets, and weird Christmas decorations made of rustic-looking wood featuring a Santa face where a reindeer’s belly should be. Other frequently re-gifted items include a tackle box-style makeup “gift set” items that could be terrible if you don’t know the individual.

One thing you have to be pretty careful about is keeping track of who gave you the gift in the fist place so as not to re-gift it back to the original giver. Oh, the shear embarrassment that would ensue when Uncle Bob opens the multi-colored, faux satin, polyester sequence shirt you just gave him for Christmas, only to have him remark how he gave you one just like it the year before. Oops!

Yeah, it happens – a lot actually. My research also turned up that there are apparently rules of etiquette involved with re-gifting and not passing it back to the original giver is close to the top of the list. You should also avoid actually opening the original packaging or using the item before re-gifting. In addition, it’s probably best not to try to reuse the original wrapping paper, as the first giver is certain to recognize it, even a year later, if they’re in your close circle of recipients.

I admit I have re-gifted a few DVDs, small art pieces, some home decor and similar items, not because they were odd or unwelcome, but more that they didn’t fit my home or interests. And I always tried to only give it to someone I thought was a good fit, not just random re-gifting. Of course, I always saved the truly hideous stuff for the occasional white elephant exchange for work.

It would seem there is no limit to what people will pass along the gift chain, and how much would you have to dislike someone to give of this stuff? It’s also entirely possible that some of these things could have been circulating around for years and years, person-to-person, Christmas tree-to-Christmas tree, until someone finally throws it away.

A review of the aforementioned list (of which I’ve only included a few examples), I have to wonder – from where and whom did the gifts originate? I mean, would someone actually purchase any of these items as a genuine gift? I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be nauseated at artificially created food scents wafting out of a candle.

But, somewhere down the line, someone made the conscious choice to buy these things and most likely with a recipient in mind. So there they are, sitting in a closet or cabinet or storage bin, waiting to be re-wrapped and given to a new recipient.

This Christmas, consider that stack of re-giftable items and think about where it might end up. Remember if that ceramic, frog-shaped toilet paper holder in your closet makes its way back into circulation, it might very well end up under your tree once more. Have a Merry Christmas!

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

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Long holiday season diminishes purpose

In Entertainment, Holiday, Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on November 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm

DIH LOGOMaybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I really don’t understand the concept of having the Christmas holiday season start before the last kid has knocked on the door and yelled, “Trick or treat.” Yet, every year, its arrival seems to advance a few more days.

From artificial Christmas trees to holiday-themed tableware, it all hits the shelves even as parents are still helping the kids carve a Jack-O-Lantern. Then, as if signaled by the dousing of porch lights after Beggars’ Night, municipal workers swiftly hang garland and lamp post banners cheerfully lettered with the bland and ever faith-neutral greeting, “Happy Holidays,” so as to avoid offending anyone.

To cash in on early shoppers this year, Walmart announced it would open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, no doubt in response to the flood of competitors who started opening early last season.  Over the last couple of years, many department stores were criticized for allegedly forcing employees to work on national holidays, supposedly threatening them with dismissal if they failed to show up.

It’s hard to criticize the merchant companies, however, because if people weren’t lining up around the block to get in, they wouldn’t bother opening early. Clearly, shoppers want to get in on the best deals as early as possible and store management simply met their demands. Of course, it’d be easy enough to argue that people wouldn’t do that if merchants weren’t enticing them with exceptional savings. So who is really to blame? I’d say it looks like the fault lies equally with both parties.

Even so, last year some employees went on strike, for lack of a better description, and refused to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many lost their jobs when they didn’t show up for the new holiday shifts, despite intervention by civil liberties supporters.

No one wants to have to work on a holiday unnecessarily. But, and not to be too blunt about it, if you’re going to work a retail job, there are certain responsibilities that come with that – like it or not. An ever-changing, irregular work schedule is probably one of the most common aspects of a retail sales job and if that’s a deal-breaker, you may need to find some other line of work.

So why are more and more retailers backing up the shopping season? Mostly retailers are trying to cash in on a higher volume of sales and make some kind of effort to steer consumers away from online competitors.

Over the last five or six years, holiday purchases have become increasingly Internet based. Many web-savvy shoppers find it far more rewarding and easier to just point and click, even taking advantage of free shipping, gift wrap and last-minute delivery offered by online retailers like Amazon and eBay.

Perhaps you’ve also noticed that TV networks and radio stations are in on the backward rush to ring in the merry season. Networks like Hallmark Channel and Lifetime began showing Christmas-themed movies and television show episodes during the first week of November. Locally, one of the best multi-genre radio stations for in the Dayton, Ohio market, Mix 107.7, has already started playing 24-hour Christmas music.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with celebrating, or even getting into the spirit of the season a bit early, but doesn’t all this commercialism and dragging out the festivities diminish the purpose of having a holiday? After all it is a – “Holy Day” – holiday; not a holi-month, or holi-quarter. Even Hanukkah has been lumped in with Thanksgiving this year; the whole thing is just becoming a blur of shopping and pointless present-buying.

Maybe it’s time we slow down a bit and think about the point of all of this. This season shouldn’t be about endless shopping or nonstop Christmas media. Whatever your plans may be, remember to reflect on the meaning of the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Religious or not, be thankful for whatever prosperity you have and share it with those less fortunate however possible. That’s what Christmas is all about.

 

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com

Christmas trees represent peace and goodwill

In Education, Entertainment, Health, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology on December 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

1836 sketch of a Christmas tree in America

1836 sketch of a Christmas tree in America

Are you offended by the term, “Christmas” tree? Or, on the other hand, maybe you get upset when someone refers to a “holiday” tree? Whatever your viewpoint, you might be surprised to learn that until the 1840’s, the Christmas tree was virtually nonexistent in America and largely considered a pagan symbol. Like many other Christian images and traditions, the tree was borrowed from earlier beliefs.

In fact, leaders of early New England Puritan societies preached against what they considered to be “heathen traditions,” such as caroling, decorating and so on. Around 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts declared any observance of the “sacred” December 25th holiday a penal offense.

Only church services were permitted and anything else, even the simplest ornaments or decorations, earned the offender punishment by fine or imprisonment. That mentality continued, for the most part, until the 19th Century when the first recorded display of a Christmas tree in America was by German settlers of Pennsylvania in 1830. So what happened? History.com offers this explanation.

“In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.”

And with that, the Christmas tree was finally accepted in the New World. But why is the evergreen used? As it turns out, that story has ancient beginnings. During the winter solstice, ancient people collected evergreen boughs and placed them over entrances and windows. It was believed in many countries that the evergreen helped to keep away evil spirits, witches, demons and other supernatural bad guys.

The mysterious Druids, the Vikings and even the ancient Egyptians and the Romans had similar tree-related practices. Today, 16th Century Deutschland is credited with the origins of the modern Christmas tree, or tannenbaum, a German word meaning “fir tree.”  Devout Germans borrowed the ancient practice and added decorations to the trees, brought them into their homes and eventually added candles and gifts to the tradition.

In the 21st Century, the tree has finally become the centerpiece of Christmas holiday decor. Some of the largest trees are placed on the grounds of The White House in Washington D.C., and New York City’s, Rockerfeller Center. But as America grows increasingly secular regarding Christmas, people are starting to refer to “holiday” trees, effectively removing the Christian association from the emblem.

As odd as it might sound, given the varied history of the institution, it may be more accurate to share the image outside the Christian connotation. Since the tradition stems from such ancient beginnings, thousands of years before Christ, tree decorating is not uniquely Christian. Hard line Christians may be offended by this idea, but hopefully they can see the promise over the offense. Sharing the practice may open the hearts of those less cordial, regardless of their faith.

Whether to you it is truth or myth, the story of the birth of Christ is one of hope. Christmas is not about the decorations, songs or presents associated with the holiday. It’s about a spirit of good will to celebrate the hope that mankind can be better than he is the other 364 days of the year.

For the truly devout, deeply held faith cannot be rocked by the change in reference to one holiday image. But remember, respect for beliefs other than your own should be paramount if Christmas is to have any meaning at all. Only through respect, understanding and kindness can there truly be peace on earth and goodwill to… everyone. Have a Merry Christmas, a joyful Hanukkah and a happy and safe New Year.