Top of the morning to ya’! It’s raining and I have small streams in my basement. You’ll have that with an old and somewhat creaky foundation. No big thing though…I keep important stuff up off the floor. And my powder’s dry. 😉
My brother-in-law conducted an odd but interesting social experiment Thanksgiving night, after dropping my sister and nephew off at home. He drove 40 minutes back up the highway to the shopping centers to observe Black Friday. He found friends standing in line. He wandered through Target and other stores. He did nothing but observe (and buy my sis a new waffle iron. We all thank you).
At our family Thanksgiving, on Saturday, he was telling us all about it and it was interesting to listen to us talk to him, to hear him describe it. It was if he had spent six months with the Peace Corps studying aboriginal people. We just sat there slack-jawed as he described a culture that is not ours (none of us like Christmas shopping and our Christmases tend to be pretty simple and are getting more so as our budgets shrink).
Apparently it was a pretty good Black Friday (for everyone who wasn’t pepper sprayed or who had to work). And Cyber Monday broke records as well. I don’t know if you noticed, but gas prices stayed lower until last night, when they jumped 10-20 cents. Feel manipulated? You should. The teevees and pundits told us we were supposed to be happy little shoppers, park our sleeping bags outside the Kohl’s and march in when the bell goes off. It does not matter if you need the new pots and pans did-you-see-the-price-oh-my-god!
Part of me wonders, though, if the reason this shopping season is off with such a bang is because we as Americans are just collectively saying SCREW IT. I know no one (except my sister who finished grad school and got a better job) who has a healthier wallet. I know mine’s not noticeably improved. Retiring debt in one area means I just work harder then in others.
I think we are, in the words of Battlestar, hopelessly frakked. And I think we know it. So buy all, buy merrily, before we die all, die merrily. I have sensed, in a strange way, a bit more community in odd places, a bit more desire to stay put and grow roots and maybe help. There’s been more enthusiasm about our Christmas Bureau families at the office, and we have less money as a staff then we had last year.
I agree with this guy who said the whole global economy is beginning to reset. We know, in our hearts, this can’t continue. Those of us who pay attention to such things are watching Europe self-destruct, for now somewhat peacefully (but Lord, you know they can’t keep that up). We are making peace with $3.50 a gallon gas because we are sure it will be higher at some point. Maybe we’ve reached peak oil before we have anything to replace it.
Some of us, most of us, are still stuffing ourselves with trinkets and Twinkies, but I think I feel something changing. With any luck (please Lord, have mercy) we’ll keep our wits about us and settle in to the new normal, where we figure out how to keep our roofs over heads, our cars running and realize that our money is just money and we owe less than the banks do to us and well, you do what you can. Maybe we’ll figure out how to make life more local. If gas is expensive, it’s going to have to be. If those of us who have more (at least for now) can figure out how to ease the transition for the less-equipped (emotionally, physically and socially), we can keep our families safe as the water seeps through the foundational cracks of our Republic.
Keep the important stuff up off the floor and by all means, kids, keep your powder dry.
Living in constant luxury and merriment, man is indeed as if lulled to sleep by the strong drink of this world. But then, in the midst of luxury and merriment, the thought of death tugs at him and awakens him. Oh, I must die! I must leave this world! I must come before God and before the angels! Where is my soul? Where are my deeds? With what shall I leave this world, and with what shall I enter into the nxt world? Thousands upon thousands of those who have been awakened from sinful sleep by such questions have fled to the wilderness and, day and night, they amend their souls and purify their hearts by repentance, prayer, fasting, vigils, labor and other proven means by which man kills the fear of death, and becomes adopted by God.
– St. Nikolai Velimirović (h/t to Jason Rossiter)