Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Movie, or not

Saturday night I watched a movie that ended up being oh-so-timely for Christmas: Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Based on a series of books, the main character, Rebecca, is a young journalist in New York City, where she quickly learns the joys of shopping. And even more quickly shops herself into credit card debt. Her addiction nearly costs her a budding relationship with a man, her job (as a columnist for a money magazine), and her best friend.
You know that thing when you see someone cute and he smiles and your heart kind of goes like warm butter sliding down hot toast? Well that's what it's like when I see a store. Only it's better. --Rebecca Bloomfield in Confessions of a Shopaholic

The movie was cute. I have not read the Shopaholic books, though I suspect they are fun reads. I didn't expect it to make me think.

I'm not a shopaholic. No, that's not denial talking :) But like a lot of people, I think I could easily fall into that habit.

Its way too easy to attempt to buy yourself picture-perfect happiness with a little plastic card. Stores are designed to draw you in and to make the merchandise look appealing. And to make you feel you desperately need something you never knew you wanted.

I fully admit that when I get unhappy about something going on in my life, I frequently go shopping. My husband and I laugh about the time when he bought a new car (his Bonneville). At the time, we had some miscommunication about whether and how and why we were saving money, and I was not happy that he had decided that he needed a new car. So I bought new living room furniture. Makes perfect sense, no?

Saturday afternoon, after a particularly annoying hunt for a specific gift for Charlotte that had me chasing from store to store to see who had it in stock, I was in a particularly strange mindset about shopping and money. On one hand, I've been feeling unable to stop myself from buying some things that we by no means need (a Christmas-y rug for the front door, a gingerbread house kit...). And on the other, I was resenting spending so much money and dreading paying it off this next month. I don't do credit card debt. Don't think I've intentionally needed pay interest on a credit card in years and years. Maybe a decade or more. Its a statement I hope to still be able to make in January, 2010.

So, during this season of economy stimulation, I watched with amusement, horror, and way too much familiarity as Rebecca gives herself up to clearance sales, designer sample sales, shuffling credit cards like a Vegas blackjack dealer. And Sunday, when we took the kids to the mall to see Santa (at Charlotte's request), it made it a little easier to ignore all of the cute clothes and 40% off sales tempting me form all sides. A little easier. And we won't discuss whether or not our kids left with a new Build-a-Bear each. (There was a coupon! Evil, evil Santa.)

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