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Christmas, it seemed, doesn't come from a store...
December 6, 2006 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Hundred Dollar Holiday
posted by anastasiav (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It's better—or maybe worse—if you read the op-ed in an Andy Rooney voice.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:56 AM on December 6, 2006


Million Dollar Baby
posted by phaedon at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2006


Billion Dollar Boondoggle
posted by languagehat at 8:17 AM on December 6, 2006


Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial
posted by nzero at 8:35 AM on December 6, 2006


Three Dollar Crack
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:36 AM on December 6, 2006


Does anyone know how to get hold of Bill McKibben's agent? I want to get him on my show.
posted by parmanparman at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2006


How dare they not bow to the gods of "stuff". That's what the war against christmas is about, isn't it?

Seriously, last year my sweetie and I decided we had amassed enough stuff (that we don't really need), and asked family and friends to donate to their favorite cause instead of buying us gifts. We did the same for them. It worked out so well that we're doing it again.

The unintended consequence for instant-gratification-old-me is that when I want a new gadget and I can afford it, I buy it. I don't have to wait for a holiday.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2006


Does anyone know how to get hold of Bill McKibben's agent?

Just e-mail Bill here, parmanparman.
posted by Floydd at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2006


Man, I must be going all UK/European. The first thing I thought when I read the title was: "Hundred Dollar Vacation."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2006


There’s no question that would mean fewer "Pop guns!...

Pop guns? Is it 1956? Why not just advise picking a meaningful gift? Or make something yourself? In other words, why not do something that requires more of the giver's time (i.e. the reader of the website) rather than some arbitrary limit that the gift receiver isn't aware of?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:54 AM on December 6, 2006


"I am writing this book in the spring of 1998.." - Bill McKibben

Is there a good reason why we're just reading about this now? And doesn't inflation mean this would now be a $117.48 holiday? figures from here
posted by imperium at 9:01 AM on December 6, 2006


Pop guns? Is it 1956?

1957, actually. I think he's quoting from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:05 AM on December 6, 2006


ZenMasterThis : "Man, I must be going all UK/European. The first thing I thought when I read the title was: 'Hundred Dollar Vacation.'"

Me too. Real English (the one from England) as second language does that, I guess. I have only started to learn "American" well after I was able read Shakespeare in the original.
posted by nkyad at 9:07 AM on December 6, 2006


imperium : "'I am writing this book in the spring of 1998..' - Bill McKibben

"Is there a good reason why we're just reading about this now?"


Yes, the Man. "They" obviously prevented his anti-capitalist rant from being published by harassing publishers, calling newspaper owners and bank managers, organizing grassroots campaigns to defend Christmas - censorship, dude, censorship. And against Christians, Methodists, no less. Religious persecution dude, religious persecution. Now, how do we get to spend a month in France for 100 bucks or less?
posted by nkyad at 9:13 AM on December 6, 2006


I certainly empathize with the idea. Christmas is an ugly, over-the-top orgy of conspicuous consumption, far removed from any actual (or supposed) original meaning. Pretty fucking depressing, actually.

Over the past year, we've had to engage in some serious financial belt-tightening. In doing so, I've become more and more aware of just how much television advertising is aimed at the upper extremes of the economic ladder. So much money and effort directed toward a (relatively) small portion of the population. The flood of obnoxious Christmas ads just serves to magnify this for me. When you aren't the target, you quickly get an observer's view of just how aggressive and pervasive the "consume" drum-beat is.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:21 AM on December 6, 2006


I like how there are prominent links for ordering newsletters and donating. Doctor Bill heal thyself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2006


I once wanted to give meaningful gifts that also helped out someone in my community. I foolishly settled on small books of poems, all signed by local authors. I've yet to live it down. Apparently, poetry is not "stuff".
posted by crispynubbins at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2006


advice:

book of poems = scented candle
posted by foodeater at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2006


And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?" "It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!" "It came without packages, boxes or bags!" And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store." "Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

It's not like this is a new idea.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2006


Man, I must be going all UK/European. The first thing I thought when I read the title was: "Hundred Dollar Vacation."

You too, huh?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:43 AM on December 6, 2006


ZenMasterThis writes "The first thing I thought when I read the title was: 'Hundred Dollar Vacation.'"

Me too. I was all: "$100 vacation? What's so great about that? I often go on vacation for up to a week on less."
posted by Mitheral at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2006


So the question is, what meaningful gifts can you get for 100 bucks. I always thought the most meaningful were the made ones, but if you had to buy it...
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 10:40 AM on December 6, 2006


I'm raising two kids, and kind of prefer the idea of random gifts throughout the year without warning (but for a reason, even if it's just "the weather is lovely"), instead of an orgy of giving at the end of the year.

Of course, as they get older (they're not yet two years old) they'll come under increasing fire from their peers, who are receiving tons of gifts at Christmas. Not sure yet if the random gifts throughout the year will make up for that or not -- I mean, who doesn't like an orgy (figuratively)?
posted by davejay at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2006


I remember when I was little my sisters and I each had three presents under the tree...

A box of kleenex (cold and flu season in Iowa comes in January)

A box of chocolate covered cherries

Evening and Paris perfume

Total cost? About $3.00, I was happy though.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


oops! Make that Evening in Paris.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2006


Not sure yet if the random gifts throughout the year will make up for that or not

I'm pretty sure the answer is "not." You don't really want to go through life being known as The Grinch, do you? I mean, go easy on the orgy by all means, but don't try to eliminate Xmas as a gift occasion or crispynubbins's experience with the poetry books will pale by comparison.
posted by languagehat at 11:07 AM on December 6, 2006


...I've become more and more aware of just how much television advertising is aimed at the upper extremes of the economic ladder.

This is only partially true, in my opinion. I think that many people who can't really afford to are encouraged to buy big ticket items (like sony playstations), using their credit cards and promises of no interest for 6 months to pay for them.

Don't get me wrong, I like my toys too, but I only buy non-essentials when I can afford to pay cash for them. By then there's usually a new generation of the gizmo out there and I pay less than the early adoptors.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2006


"$100 vacation? What's so great about that? I often go on vacation for up to a week on less."

I was another who thought "Great! A how-to link for cheap vacations." Imagine my dismay when I discovered that it was just one more guy who thinks Xmas should be less commercial.

I've got to say: even if I don't *buy* a wackload of stuff (which I don't -- little presents for friends and only minor-key stuff for Mom & Dad) I still blow a bundle on the holiday itself, from airfare to my parents' home city to food. Unless I plan on walking or hitchhiking from Saskatoon to Vancouver, which would be a touch chilly, I'm going to spend more than 100.00.

We need festivals. The point of festivals is their non-utility, their folly and their excess. We especially need festivals in the darkest days of the year, for all kinds of physiolgical and psychological reasons.

This doesn't mean I agree with the Objectivist wibble, BTW.

So: I vote for a Metafilter posting on cheap vacations.
posted by jrochest at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2006


"Is there a good reason why we're just reading about this now?"

A shot in the dark: Marketplace (on NPR) had a story on the hundred dollar holiday last night. See text of story.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2006


You know, this really resonated with me. Each year I feel a bit more "icky" about Christmas, it's excess and hype, and how it actually seems to cause stress for many people rather than be a relaxing, joyful time with friends and family. And, I'm no environmentalist, but Christmas is one of the best reminders of the effect we have on the environment - such monumental waste in such a short period of time!

I'm not religious, so I'm always asking myself, "What am I celebrating? And what am I teaching my kid to celebrate?" Increasingly, the things that I like about the holiday season (hanging out with friends and family, eating, drinking, relaxing after a long year) get harder and harder to do. So the last two years, my wife and I have really tried to lower the stress level.

I'd feel bad about stopping relatives from buying stuff for the boy (he's only six), but my wife and I are pretty restrained. A stocking with a few trinkets and a couple of sets of Lego is pretty much it. And the requisite socks and underwear, but he needs those anyway. We don't buy anything for each other and are content that we actually get to spend some time together for a change.

We don't buy gifts for any extended family or friends (and we ask that they refrain from getting anything for us) but my wife makes homemade cards for everybody. We've taken to hosting a Christmas Eve brunch - we prepare everything from scratch and feed our family and friends. No gifts please - the pleasure of their company (many we haven't seen all year) is more than enough.

I probably won't get to under a hundred bucks (I'll drink that in the 10 days I'm off), but I'm definitley moving towards a simpler more relaxing holiday, and I hope to establish a new set of traditions that my boy wll carry on when he gets older.
posted by sharpener at 1:19 PM on December 6, 2006


Bill McKibben wrote a well-regarded work, which is perhaps philosophical in the Continental tradition, called The End of Nature about fifteen years ago. In it he suggests that human influence on Earth is now so pervasive that what we think of as nature no longer exists. I highly recommend it.
posted by Kwine at 1:20 PM on December 6, 2006


Man, I must be going all UK/European. The first thing I thought when I read the title was: "Hundred Dollar Vacation."
posted by ZenMasterThis


Me too, and now I feel cheated.

So: I vote for a Metafilter posting on cheap vacations.
posted by jrochest


I second!
posted by figment of my conation at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2006


Sometimes I get angry about the commercialization of Christmas, but then I laugh and remember--I'm not Christian!

If Christians feel they need to spend money to satisfy their god, that's their problem.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:11 PM on December 6, 2006


Thanks for posting, Anastasia
posted by theora55 at 5:19 PM on December 6, 2006


I re-read the Battle for Christmas this year. During past readings, I've concentrated most on Nissenbaum's account of how the US went from the Puritan non-celebration of an essentially pagan holiday to the full embrace of that holiday. This time, though, what caught most of my attention was Nissenbaum's basic thesis about why that happened: that Christmas is, itself, a product of industrialization and capitalism. Its cultural import has increased both along with and in opposition to the spread of capitalist industry. Industrialization, more than anything, has created modern Christmas.
posted by Miko at 8:01 PM on December 6, 2006


You're inadequate; buy more stuff.

(NB: Self-ref)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:37 PM on December 6, 2006


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