Tag Archives: Christmas

How Do You Celebrate Christmas?

I am writing on Christmas day. Why? I love what I do and I am a nerd. I am really interested in the question of how YOU celebrate Christmas.

Christmas_tree

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The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas but the reality is that Christmas means different things to different people.  I am not writing to tell you how to celebrate Christmas, but to ask you how you celebrate it.

Let’s use a simple formula:

Christmas is about ________________________.

I celebrate Christmas by ____________________.

For example:

  • Christmas is about family. I celebrate Christmas by going to Grandma’s house where the entire family gets together for Christmas dinner.
  • Christmas is about forgiveness. I celebrate Christmas by making a list of all the people with whom I need to reconcile.
  • Christmas is about toys. I celebrate Christmas by shopping.
  • Christmas is about Jesus. I celebrate Christmas by remembering the birth of our savior and singing hymns at the Christmas eve service.
  • Christmas is about celebrating the holiday season. I celebrate Christmas by having a good time (especially under the mistletoe).

So How do You Celebrate Christmas?

The purpose of this article was to ask YOU what YOU believe Christmas is all about and how YOU celebrate Christmas. I sincerely want to know.

Quirky Traditions?

I would also like to know about any quirky Christmas traditions you might have. For example, I have a friend who orders pizza every year on Christmas because when he and his wife were young and broke, that was all that they could afford. I have a relative who breaks out green polyester “Christmas pants” from the 1970s.   I am not judging. I have my share of Christmas ties.

Our quirky tradition is to  ___________________.

So what is Christmas all about? How do you celebrate Christmas? What are  your traditions? I would love to hear what you have to say.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 25, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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A Modest Proposal to End the “War on Christmas.”

As I write, Christmas is just weeks away.

Frosty the Snowman

Each year the drum beat seems to get progressively louder. Secularists clamor to  water down Christmas displays with gaudy arrangements that must include Frosty the Snowman and candy canes. Then they call for the outright removal of manger scenes and even the Christmas tree. Conservatives have dubbed this the “War on Christmas.”

I have never understood why people who claim not to believe in God are so troubled by others who believe in His existence. It doesn’t trouble me when people believe that Elvis is still alive.  To borrow from Hamlet, the atheist “doth protest too much, methinks.”

Christmas_tree

Last year Governor  Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island renamed the Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” in the name of inclusivity. So in order not to offend anyone, Chafee ignored the obvious fact that the 87.5% Christian population of his state might be offended by this politically correct shot over the bow.  Only 6% of Rhode Island self-identifies as non-religious (thanks, in large measure to Brown University).

“O Holiday Tree, O Holiday Tree” just does not have the same ring. This year, Chafee did it again, but he was smarter. To avoid last year’s protests, he gave only 30 minutes notice before the tree-lighting ceremony. Nothing suggests that public sentiment is on your side more than surreptitious behavior. Never mind that the White House “Christmas tree” was lit just a few days later.

4 Ways We Can Handle the Christmas Holiday:

1. Leave it alone

I celebrate Christmas. Jews celebrate Hannukah or Chanukah (and they can spell it however they like because it is THEIR holiday. They cash in on Christmas shopping deals and I got a day off from public school on Yom Kipper and Rosh Hashanah.

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I may have inappropriately said “Happy New Year” on the Day of Atonement, but my Jewish neighbors didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they appreciated that I was trying to be respectful of their tradition.  This is the way most people feel about the holidays.

2. We have competing holidays at the same time.  

In this scenario, you can’t be satisfied unless Kwanzaa is more popular than Hanukkah or Ramadan (or Ramadan gets more attention than Hanukkah depending on your persuasion). Moreover, all minority holiday celebrants must envy Christmas.

Borrowing the Marxist narrative, Christmas is bad because it is celebrated by the majority, where all of the smaller [proletariat] holidays are self-evidently virtuous.

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Seinfeld-Season-9-DVDFestivus_PoleFestivus has sprung up a humorous alternative to the traditional Christmas holiday.  In the last season of Seinfeld, George’s father celebrated Festivus “for the rest of us.” Festivus is celebrated on December 23. It includes a plain aluminum pole (to distinguish itself from the Christmas tree) and the “airing of grievances.” This was a funny Seinfeld episode, but it highlights the adversarial thinking I am talking about here. Can’t we just be respectful of each other?

3. We have only one standard holiday

This seems to be what the president of the American Atheists wants.

As our society increasingly unhinges from its mooring, someone will always be offended by what another person does. Our default solution is to make it accommodating for all, as if doing that will somehow satisfy all parties. More often than not, this solution leaves everyone dissatisfied.

What would one standard holiday look like? Cross the efficiency of the post office with the effectiveness of the public school system and I think you will have a sense of how bland the Winter Solstice holiday will feel. Just be sure not to bring religion into it–that is not polite.

4. Add a holiday.

Maybe we  should add an extra holiday in January for the rational free-thinkers who are offended by Christmas as a Federal holiday. Sure it will be one more lost day of productivity for the economy, but when we spend billions on non-productive bailouts, this will be a drop in the ocean.

Moreover, free thinkers will have their holiday or “Reason-Day” or whatever they want to call it. And, it should take the edge off of the silly argument that the government is “establishing a religion” by creating a Federal holiday that acknowledges that no one wants to go to work on Christmas anyway.

This is my olive branch to the politically correct atheists and it actually might be a good idea.

We can position Reason Day in late January when most people have already broken their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get out of debt, and generally be a better person. Reason Day will be a stark reminder of our need to be better humans.

Moreover, another highly commercialized holiday would be great for business. If we have learned anything about economics from the mainstream media, it is that shopping helps the economy.

This would be a win-win scenario. The only reason that the Atheists wouldn’t embrace this generous offer would be if  the “War on Christmas” was not about “equal rights,” but about something else–the removal of Christianity from the public square.

I just hope the Reason-Day cookies taste good.

What are your thoughts? I would like to know.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 10, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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If You Do Not Read This Article, You Will Simply Hate How Much Money You Will Lose.

The Christmas season is here and it seems that everyone is having a once in a lifetime sale. Deals are everywhere. But listen closely to the advertisements and you will notice a funny trend. They all say: “buy now,” “limited time offer,” or “quantities are limited.” These companies are not out of merchandise. Instead, they are setting psychological traps intended to play on your fears of scarcity.

What is Scarcity?

Definition of Scarcity from Investopedia.com

Scarcity means that you cannot have everything you want.

Corporations understand that you desperately want certain items. Parents want to get particular toys for their children. Dad wants the largest TV possible. Mom wants some alone time (and for those of you who cannot get it, you truly know the meaning of scarcity).

Corporations Use Scarcity to Inflate Profits

Do you remember when cabbage patch dolls were all the rage?

It was the 1980s and I was in junior high school. I recall how difficult it was for Aunt Gail to get one for my cousin Amy. The lines at the toy store stretched around the block. People paid unbelievable prices, and they were thrilled if they could get one even at that price. Black markets formed where Cabbage Patch dolls were scalped.

I was only in junior high, but  I remember thinking that the company must have lousy executives to plan so poorly before the Christmas rush. With a little forethought, I thought, they could have produced plenty for everyone to buy.

Ah, but I was young and na·ïve. I did not understand that they were intentionally manufacturing scarcity in order to inflate profits.

I saw the same phenomenon repeat itself in 1996 with Tickle-me Elmo. The $29  toy was resold for as much as $1,500 because they were so scarce. Parents did not want to refuse their children the one toy that they most wanted.

Do not think you are immune. Apple uses this strategy when they roll out each iteration of the iPhone.

Scarcity Inflates Value.

This can be done in many ways: Producing fewer items produces scarcity Limited time offers create scarcity. As the clock counts down to Christmas morning–scarcity.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityCorporations know how scarcity works and they use this understanding to manipulate you. They intentionally say things like “But you had better hurry. These deals won’t last long.” Then they have the After-Christmas sale, End of Year Clearance, and New Year’s Sale where they repeat the same line.

How To Protect Yourself From the Scarcity Mentality.

Understand what is happening.

1. Companies sometimes intentionally limit distribution in order to induce scarcity. Remember the Black Friday sales? Limited quantities drove consumers to camp outside in the cold for hours in order to purchase an artificially scarce item. Did the company have more in the warehouse? Of course they did.

2. Sales with limited time-frames also create scarcity. Companies want you to think that if you do not buy now, you will never have the opportunity again, at least not at this price.

3. Specific items that do not have substitutes are scarce. For example, when I was a kid, I wanted Star Wars action figures. These were more expensive than any alternatives on the market. To my dismay, I got Star Trek Action Figures. To my mom, it was all the same, but on the play ground Mr. Scott and Dr. McCoy were not welcomed on the Millennium Falcon.

Now, here is where parents get into trouble.  Remember the large TV dad wants? There are many brands and most have similar ranges of quality or substitutability. Dad will likely be as satisfied with a Panasonic, Sharp, LG, or Sony as long as the screen is 60 inches.

However, if your little darling desperately wants a Doc McStuffins Time for your Checkup Doll, there really are no clear substitutes. A knockoff simply is not the same, and Disney knows it. They have been selling Doc McStuffins through “commercial-free” Disney Channel cartoons all year. This is non-substituability.

What To Do

1. Recognize that if you are chasing a popular but limited item, the laws of supply and demand are working against you.

2.Do not be duped by limited time offers (e.g. Black Friday or Cyber Monday are the only times you will see great deals). Deals will ebb and flow.

3. If you simply must have the  Doc McStuffins Time for your Checkup Doll, you will pay dearly to have it. But you can lower your bill  for adult items by overcoming scarcity with substitution (e.g. a different 60 inch TV than the particular brand you want) or time (e.g. the After Christmas Sale).

4. Budget. The best plan is to know how much you plan to spend ahead of time. Do not exceed this total.

A good deal, such as 20% off, becomes a bad deal when you pay 120% because of the credit card payments.

5. Don’t believe the lie that your love can be measured by how much you spend.

6. Remember that scarcity is a mindset. Corporations attempt to inject it into the equation. You will pay less when you reject a scarcity mindset.

I am not a financial Planner, but I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which I have used  in  my classes.

The Professor’s Recommended Reading

Financial Peace University

November 26, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Filed under Books, Economics, Leadership, Profitability