farthings and fancy cars

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat

If you haven’t got a penny a farthing will do

If you haven’t got a farthing God bless you.



Christmas is indeed coming, but farthings (a quarter of a penny) are long gone.  The man with the hat is sadly still with us.  I was speechless to read the news reports about “Black Friday”.  With apologies to my American readers, but this is yet another US import that we really could have done without.  As I try to gradually rid our house of all the unnecessary stuff that we have accumulated without even noticing (sometimes I really do think that clutter does procreate and at the rate of rats as well) people are killing each other in order to get a discount on something they probably didn’t even know they wanted.

What is our relationship with belongings?  Why do we feel the need to own things, does it validate us?  We are probably quite unusual in that we have never taken out a loan to buy a car, we always buy second hand and we buy the best we can afford with the money we are prepared to send.  Consequently I have never owned an Audi nor a Merc nor a Range Rover.  We have to have a 4×4 because of where we live and we have a 16 year old RAV (one careful female owner whose father happened to be a car mechanic and only 80,000 on the clock – private sale for less than £2K)  It does what it says on the tin.  I don’t need to say who I am by the car I drive.

We do need the basics for life and most of us would like some creature comforts,  I am not for a moment suggesting that asceticism is the only way to go but I am staggered by the conspicuousness of the consumption.  I like to look good, I like my home to look good and feel comfortable, I like a car that starts and I enjoy my food and drink.  I do not need 50 handbags and 20 black skirts.  We need only one fridge and as long as it is the right size for our family and keeps the food cold does it matter how old it is?

Age and background don’t seem to make any difference.  Is it our fault?  Have we brought this upon ourselves? Can we stem the tide or is it too late?

It is the third day of Advent.  If you would like to do it a little bit differently you could do no worse than read Stephen Cottrell’s excellent book.

Do nothing – Christmas is coming


8 thoughts on “farthings and fancy cars

  1. I’m from Colorado and I agree with you wholeheartedly as far as black Friday and the whole commercialism thing!
    I actually own a needlework shop, and we do not advertise black Friday sales, we have yet to put up our Christmas decorations – really tomorrow is soon enough, and we do not support the hype at all.
    When our family was young there were three gifts each at Christmas – always a book, something to wear, and a toy, game or puzzle that could be shared. Now that our children are grown – we give each family a food basket each Christmas – breads, jams, beverages – and good chocolate and nuts of course. And many of my customers never go out shopping on black Friday or small business Saturday or even Thanksgiving – when a number of the big stores were promoting huge sales! – I don’t know who started this mess – but they’ve left it for us to clean up. Let’s hope it’s not too late!

    1. I am of the William Morris school of thought. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

  2. Amen girl! Yes, the day after we give thanks for all we have we go out and kill each other so we can all have more STUFF! UGH! Have been working on cleaning out my mom’s house now that she is in a TINY retirement apartment and the biggest struggle is what to do with STUFF…. Store it? Give it? Sell it? Hell, I’d like to burn it! Not the photos of course or a few heirloom pieces, but in general… Hundreds of glasses, plates, and pairs of shoes later, etc. I am so tired of STUFF… Christmas or whatever hol should be spent helping out and giving if anything time, love, food…

    1. I am refusing to give my mother any stuff. She will get vouchers for restaurants or galleries or whatever, I haven’t decided yet but it will not be more stuff for her to hide around the house.

  3. I agree. But it seems we can only lead by example. I don’t know how this can be changed on a large scale 😦
    I agree about the car, too. I was so pleased to replace my very old and trusty little car for the same but slightly newer secondhand model last spring – what more do I need?! Certainly not a car debt!! 😮
    We don’t care about the image our cars give – we are who we are and our cars fulfill their purpose, no more, no less no matter what else is being driven around (ridiculous in this country!). In fact, now that we are using the train so much, we’d be perfectly fine with just one, so that’s germinating just now…

  4. “Christmas is coming. Do nothing.” Oh, how wonderful. Brought a smile to my face. Its sad for my heart when I see people just shopping and buying just for the sake of getting something new and exciting. Its a flash in the pan and then the excitement is gone. And its back to square one. I am with you (in fact, I also follow the beautiful or useful guideline) in that its not about asceticism. Its about finding simple joys in nature and in the every day that are worth more than a Audi or new pair of shoes ever could be.

    And I saw a image on the internet that said something along the lines of “Black Friday: Only in America would we trample people to get a great deal the day after saying how thankful we are for all we’ve got.” Its sick. I am sad to hear its been exported from our country, too.

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