Eat, Drink, and Be Miserly

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The holiday season is a classic time to check the national mood and reflect. So how are we doing? Let’s just say you shouldn’t expect to see a new car with a bow on top in your driveway anytime soon.

A USA Today story sums up that on the eve of Thanksgiving people are spending less (obviously) and are very thankful (that things are not worse than they are, I suppose):

The 25-pound turkey, the office party, the year-end bonus, the family reunion, the second (or third) Christmas tree — all are threatened by what employment consultant John Challenger calls “a culture of frugality” and the need to refocus an alluring American dream: a happy holiday…

Some employers will cut back on extravagant parties — employees probably should expect more potlucks — and others will be more apt to volunteer services or donate to charities in lieu of perks for employees, says Challenger, who is CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“It’s hard to celebrate in an elaborate way when you are laying people off,” he says.

City budgets may be in even worse shape than their corporate counterparts. To limit holiday expenditures in Chicago, the city went with a sad, Charlie Brown-type Christmas tree, which is smaller and cost half of last year’s model. There’s plenty of complaining about the tree (which is still 50 feet tall), though lots of people also say that it’s good to save in any way possible.

What’s gotten some folks in an uproar in Washington, D.C.? A turkey giveaway that didn’t give much away. Hundreds of people had to be turned away during the “giveaway” arranged by D.C. Council member (and disgraced, crack-smoking former mayor) Marion Barry.

Advertisers, in tune with the nation’s frugal mood and aware than shoppers are patiently waiting for mega-discounts, are openly playing to the “festively frugal” crowd, per the NY Times.

The economy has been in the dumps for so long, how can you not be something of a Grinch? A RecessionWire writer who hosted an over-the-top party last year admits to decamping for the party of Scrooge:

This year, please turn off that holiday music, it rings so hollow (even creepy), especially when accompanied by upbeat nudges to plunk down twenty grand or so for a new car with a ribbon on top. Things are not looking better, not yet, and I don’t say that just because our site happens to be called Recessionwire. Indeed, holidays are meant to be when people come together in good cheer whether times are good or bad; heck, Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas” in the dark days of 1942, when the U.S. was fully engaged in World War II and many families were split apart. But I, for one, just ain’t feeling it in these tough times.

So feel free to humbug it up this holiday season. You’ll be in good (or rather, grouchy) company. If you’re sick of being bummed, check out the Peanuts gang dancing: If that doesn’t put you in a more festive mood, I don’t know what will.

Related:

Have Yourself a Merry Anti-Consumer Christmas
Black Friday: What We Know So Far

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