Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How Many Presents Do We Need?

I listened to a very cool radio broadcast last night by Dr. Stephen Bezruchka. This link is not to the broadcast I heard; the broadcast is under copyright and has to be purchased, but the paper purports a lot of the same ideas. It is a lengthy read, but really worth it. He has studied population health for the last 20 or 30 years and cites the "sickness" in our society as the underlying cause of most medical ills. The radio program was more focused on mental health; the paper is more focused on physical health. Which, Dr. Bezruschka asserts, are linked so closely that one closely follows or comes with the other. I am going to study his ideas a little bit more and get just as liberal commie pinko as Nemesis; then I will blog a little more about what I've learned and what I think.

But the thing that has me really going today is that I went down to buy a very little bit of Halloween kitsch the other day--you know, cups, plates, stickers--and everywhere I look there are signs on all kinds of random products proclaiming, "Makes a Great Halloween Gift!" I found this thing below on-line in about four seconds. And obviously your kids need this because . . . .? Oh, right, the NEIGHBORS WON'T BE GIVING OUT POUNDS OF CANDY FOR FREE ALREADY!

The section of cards for Halloween has grown to be about a 100 feet long. The whole array of cards says "Halloween" at the top complete with all the labels underneath:

For Him
Halloween--Best Friend
For Kids
For Grandkids
Thank You
With Sympathy
From Pet

Okay, I'm being a little snarky, but you get the idea. I know that retailers keep putting Christmas out earlier and earlier, but this is the first time I've noticed Halloween co-opted as a gifty holiday. Dr. Bezruchka talks at length about the problems with advertising too. Boy, have I got a doozy of a post coming up. Oh, and I've been reading The New Yorker lately as my subscription just renewed. I'm feeling awfully blue today . . . .


FoxyJ said...

I hate the fact that every holiday has now become an excuse to buy stuff. I dread the day when S-Boogie comes home from school feeling sad that her friends get presents for Valentines or Easter, because we are never going to do that. Or the day that she discovers that her friends get more than two or three gifts for Christmas. We decided before we had kids to keep holidays and birthdays simple. We get the kids (and each other) one toy, one item of clothing, and one book for Christmas. Usually for their birthday it's one toy and one book. We do the same for each other. I really want to keep holidays focused on having fun, doing nice things for others, and other intangibles instead of stuff, stuff, stuff...

Desmama said...

I hear you (and Foxy). I'd rather have my children remember the holidays in our home for what we did together than what they got. I want them to remember the fun traditions and things that make looking forward to the holidays fun.

Girly Momma said...

it is officially my goal to keep christmas as simple as possible this year, especially because 2 of my girlies have january b-days. we end up with so much stuff in a month we hardly know where to put it all. and i love the story about your son in the primary program. too too funny. ranks right up there with me flashing the congregation when i was in the program back in the day. good memories.

Christie said...

I read the paper from the link you gave at the start of your blog. (Almost called it a column. Which is what I consider it.) Anyway, I can't say that I bought everthing he said. We have a representative government, and for the most part what the people want is what the people get. Did tax laws take us to where we are today? Or was it greed? And did you notice why Hispanics have better health? Tight families. Ding. Ding. Ding! What changed after World War II was that families changed. Women went to work and stayed at work. The 60s saw the sexual revolution. The 70s saw something but it was lost in the fog of increased drug use.

Dr. Bezruchka asserts that the rich are weilding power and influence to keep the poor man down, and then he advocates a revolution. Put the rich in their place. Unsaddle yourselves and beat down the rider. That just doesn't sit well with me. (Pun intended.) I may sound corny and starry-eyed, but it's all about love. What Bezruchka is advocating sounds like reverse pride. I believe that Christ is the greatest doctor to ever address population health. He said to love your neighbor. He also said that a rich man getting into heaven is like unto a camel fitting through the eye of a needle. Whether he was talking of a narrow gate in the walls of Jerusalem or an actual needle's eye, I think the implication is plain. The rich must give up their possessions voluntarily. When any man (rich or poor) loves heavenly things more than earthly things, the world's health will be balanced. Don't hold your breath.