Thursday, November 29, 2007


I read that retailers at both extremes of the shopping spectrum did well on Black Friday, but that those in the middle lagged. That means the Wal-Marts and the Targets did OK, and places like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus did OK, but JC Penney and Macy’s faced challenges.

Gee, could that be yet another sign that there’s no more middle class in this country?

I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts. Even though I’m a practicing Buddhist, I celebrate Christmas with my family. It is, after all, a powerful cultural phenomenon, and just as Buddhism recognizes the connectivity of all things, I think the Christian message of Christ’s birth is interwoven into the Dharma - the spirituality is really one thing, expressed in different ways.

I try to give small gifts each year that are highly personalized. Last year, for example, I gave everyone framed enlargements of some of my favorite photos. I also made donations to charity in each person’s name.

But I’m having doubts about that approach this year. From a social perspective, I think it’s a good way to handle gift-giving. But it seems a little selfish. Who am I really pleasing - myself, the giver, or the people receiving the gift? They don’t really want a gift to charity in their name. They want a book, or a shirt.

So I think this year I may do some conventional shopping. I’ll still keep the gifts modest, but maybe it’s time to refocus on the recipients of the gifts, rather than on a social ideal or a message about consumerism.

(Photo: Ginkgo leaves in Pisa, Italy, Nov. 2007)


  1. I hope Bergdorf Goodman did well! Just kidding.

    It seems that people strive to shop in upscale stores to "feel better" I don't know.

    the adults in my family give small practical token gifts and charity related gifts--our parents started the trend and we really are fine with it.

  2. I think the idea and practice of gift giving, like many things in this country have gotten off base. I think you should give what you want, it means more that way...when you are excited to give something to someone. Hope I make sense!

  3. The year my sister "bought" me a goat from Heiffer International, I was so happy. Donations to charity are wonderful gifts, though I'm sure a shirt or a book will be great, too.

    My family will receive photos ... big surprise!

    Are you going to shop at Macy's? They need your business apparently!

  4. Steve, you've always impressed me as a guy with great instincts. I'm guessing that whatever you do about Christmas will be the right thing.

  5. The ginkgo leaves are gorgeous! Italy was right on schedule with Georgia in terms of color. :)

    The gift giving thing is a challenge. For me it's made simple this year--I'm broke! Looks like framed photographs of the Amazon will have to suffice for my family and friends. (smile)

  6. am i on your christmas list?

  7. am i on your christmas list?