A few months ago I realized how the US are especially competent when it comes to enjoying a holiday. They do it better than anyone else. Be it X-mas, Thanksgiving, Halloween or whatever Coca-Cola decides to come up with next; these guys really go for it. And you can tell which holiday is coming next by the new flavour of Starbucks’ limited edition latte, the décor at the Korean supermarket around the corner and by the amount of random themed products that you’ll find at CVS.
So I thought that yep, sure this could all get sort of out of control and get us stocking dusty papier-maché turkeys, plastic pumpkin lanterns and neon Rudolphs. But I also thought that we could just enjoy the super excited approach to holidays without necessarily having to buy into the consumerism behind it and get a loan just to take our significant others to that fancy French bistro on Valentine’s Day.
But I guess I have to admit that the idea behind this overdosed celebration is, indeed, to fuel consumerism. The goal is to think of all the possible products and services that could remotely relate to the holiday in question, wrap it into a nice package, get Kendall Jenner to share it on her Instagram and… bang! Almost impossible not to want two of it.
I was naïve to think that everyone has the common sense, solid values and their priorities set straight, and could free willingly duck away from the temptation to buy an expensive teddy-bear-holding-a-heart if they’re having a hard time to get the rent in the end of the month.
But to assume that a great part of the population has had access to the solid education and upbringing that takes to build those values is ludicrous. Especially when we’re talking about a country where media has such a substantial power; a country where, in the most important sports event of the year, you get more adds than… sports. The pressure is just so vile that I understand how people give in. Give in to that offer of yet another credit card that’s mailed weekly to your front door, ending up with a crazy debt just to have that tiny moment of shopping bliss.
Every manufacturer gets that and the great challenge lays in discovering, each year, how to sell more and how to charge more for it. Here in the US, as in any other country, stagnating is not an option. But here’s what I find special about America: they are far more creative than other countries.
One example from Boston: the city where the Sons of Liberty threw tea into the sea in 1773 as a way to protest against Britain’s taxation tyranny, initiating the Boston Tea Party movement. Well, did you know that today, “for the small amount of $25” you can actually take the Boston harbour Museum tour and simulate that you’re throwing the tea into the water yourself! Now ain’t that brilliant? I mean it, really ingenious people.
But what caught my attention the most, what made me understand that there’s no limit when it comes to finding new sources of income happened on Valentine’s Day.
Now, please don’t tell me you thought a Lindt chocolate box was a good valentine’s gift. Did you fall for that teddy-bear-with-a-heart thing? Shame on you. Why buying roses when you can buy… a star!?
No, this is not metaphorical. I’m talking about an actual star, these shinning celestial bodies that have been hanging around for such a long time, just waiting to be a part of our great free economy game.
Well, with $54 dollars you can “buy” or “give the gift of” a star. Or at least that’s what the ad says. Actually what you do is you name a random star in the Universe (actually most likely the fading light of an already “dead” star) with whatever name you feel like so you can hang on your bedroom wall a certificate stating that somewhere out there, in the most profound depths of the Universe lays a star named “Bill & Susan forever”. Because isn’ t that the coolest thing ever?
Oh, by the way, this is the price for the basic deal. Why not upload to the Deluxe and get the certificate framed into a beautiful golden frame and a card to go with it, so you can take the coordination of your star’s location with you all the time? What the hell, just get a whole constellation and name all of your family members! Engrave jewellery with your star’s coordination! The possibilities are as infinite as…well as Universe itself!
All I know is that, while for some people this bizarre amount of offers feeds that crave for sliding one’s credit card, for me it has been having the opposite effect. The more I realise how banal consumption has become, the less I want to buy. I guess I’m afraid of letting myself go a little and not knowing when to stop; maybe I just don’t want to feel fooled realizing I felt into a silly “limited time only” trap. All I know is that it got me thinking if I really want to buy all that stuff or if I’m just letting myself get carried away. Most times I end up leaving everything in the dressing room and getting out empty handed. And it feels good.
So my proposal today is: shop less. Think twice if you really need another bag; didn’t you have a shirt just like that at home? Spend less time worrying about what to get for your dad for x-mas and just spend some time with him. Spend more time enjoying all that stuff that “you wish to do, but never have the time to do it”. I reckon that this sort of bliss is a tiny bit more long lasting than getting a huge deal on that a-mazing last season’s Michael Kors.
Oh, and you might want to include appreciating a starry night once in a while on that list. Just in case, while it’s still free.