These times, they can’t be so terrible

Published 10:45 pm Saturday, November 26, 2011

“Oh, this place is going to be a zoo on Friday,” I muttered to myself, scanning aisles and aisles and aisles of the trappings of Christmas.

Linus of Peanuts fame would be devastated. The hunt for deals and bargains will dwarf all things everything, and it began Friday.

Now remember, Americans are told nearly daily that we are living through the worst economy since the Great Depression — the fallacy being a complete and utter lack of perspective. Grandma was 11 when the real Great Depression hit. Her father worked for the railroad and had consistent employment, so their family never suffered the ways so many others did. But she saw the suffering and her family’s generosity in offering a sandwich to a stranger with an empty belly. To get a sandwich meant survival. Who knew when the next one would come?

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Here we are in what is told to us as the Great Depression of our times. Compared to 1998 or 2004, maybe. But come on. Drive around back of the biggest of the big box stores and notice the shipping containers. Everywhere containers, like the ones you see at the big-city ports. Each is filled, most likely, with junk. This year’s “must have” toy will be February’s cause of a sprained ankle.

Piled 10 high in a garage normally used for oil changes were motorized, convertible Camaros — for children. It can only be assumed that those shipping containers contain more of the same. Anticipation for a banner year must be high, judging by those containers.

I’d be willing to bet what’s in those containers came from a country other than our own. Most of it is cheaply produced using the cheapest labor possible. Low production costs lead to low consumer costs which leads to a flush bounty under the Christmas tree.

Far be it for me to be a humbug already, and giving gifts is fun — so don’t stop completely, just add a bit of perspective. Shop locally and try to find America-made products. Don’t get down if the family finances will not allow for extravagance. Everyone will understand.

My challenge this year — presence over presents. After all, there are few greater gifts than being with others.

Try also to hold some perspective when talking heads warn of economic Armageddon and this being as bad as 1929.

It’s not.

It can’t be when people line up for Camaros for children, and not for soup and bread.

Sean P. Murphy is web editor. He can be reached at