Chris Johnson: 'Tis the season to get and give more stuff

December 8, 2013 

Quick! What did your brother give you for Christmas two years ago? Or your sister? Or son? Or grandma? What did anybody give you as a Christmas present in December 2011?

Unless it was a sports car or a kidney, you probably couldn't answer that question in less than a minute. And if you're an average guy, you probably wouldn't be able to answer that question with a week of pondering. In fact, a guy may never be able to answer that question.

And all that makes me wonder why folks were pushing at store fronts and beating and cursing each other on Black Friday -- even, sadly, on Thanksgiving night -- for the chance to buy stuff, albeit better-priced stuff. We've even gotten through Cyber Monday now and Giving Tuesday, when folks are supposed to give to those in need instead of buy stuff for those who don't … only to realize they've run out of money after Cyber Monday and can't give on Giving Tuesday, meaning they'll have to wait to get paid on Friday so that they can buy more stuff to make up for the stuff that sold out before they could beat somebody up and steal it from them on Black Friday.

Stuff. Stuff! All this for more stuff? Really? Don't get me wrong -- I like some stuff, so don't go returning my Christmas stuff if you've already bought it. Well, on second thought, if you told me on Christmas Day that you had a gift for me but changed your mind and instead used the money for charity, I'd actually appreciate it more.

I've got stuff. I've got a kayak. A guitar. An older iPhone that works just fine. An even older laptop computer that works just fine. A camera. A very nice grill that falls under the category of important stuff with which you can grill stuff. An elliptical machine to hold my clothes. I've got stuff! And I like my stuff!

If I had another small TV, I could probably find a place to put it, but I

really don't want you running over a sweet little old lady to get it for $75. It can wait, as can any video game system that I can't play. (Really, what ever happened to just a joystick and red button for us simpletons from the 1980s Atari generation?) And for God's sake please don't get me whatever this year's Furby or Tickle Me Elmo fad is out there!

I'm the kind of guy who could live in a one-room cabin far outside the city limits. Owning a lot of stuff just isn't my thing. And I've never heard of anyone dying and saying, "If only I'd owned more stuff." I've never heard of anyone dying and saying anything -- well, except my Great Uncle Frank, but only because he was mad that we let his brother-in-law attend his funeral.

I like doing stuff, such as hanging out with friends and kayaking. I like seeing stuff, such as concerts, sporting events and the view from Brasstown Bald or Dowdell's Knob. I think the only stuff life should be about is the stuff you experience, not the stuff you own.

It's not that I wish retailers any ill will, for the whole American economy is based around buying and selling stuff -- which is weird since some of the people who need people to buy stuff aren't willing to pay people enough to buy stuff.

This has been coming for a long time, but I think reality TV and the worship of soulless Beverly Hills housewives, Kardashians and Hiltons has ramped it up a notch. I guess by buying and owning a little bit of stuff, people think they can experience the great joy (sarcasm alert) they see on the faces of those rich celebs who own a lot of stuff. And that kind of stuff just annoys me.

But if you're bound and determined to pile up the stuff, especially at Christmas, at lease make it some stuff worth owning -- like a book by your favorite humor columnist. Or me.

-- Connect with Chris Johnson at

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