I have a very few friends who are really quite wealthy. A number of years ago now, one such couple built a house in a very upscale area of metro Atlanta. And, as I understand it, it was quite a house – very large and very opulent with many of the upscale amenities many of us only marvel at. Well, a strange thing has happened since the onset of the recession. This couple has become somewhat embarrassed by the size of their home and are now trying to sell the house.
While I cannot begin to identify with what they are experiencing as a result of the downturn in the economy, I do have a glimmer of understanding of their changing perspective. Opulence and material excess, for at least some, have become far less attractive – and even a tad embarrassing. I have heard that even in Hollywood – a place known for its material excess – some movie stars and the like, who are shopping in very expensive stores are having their merchandise put into plain bags so that their affluent purchases will be hidden from view of the public.
As the onslaught of Christmas advertising has begun, I can identify at least a little bit with a growing distaste for over-the-top personal spending for the coming season. Even the very trappings of the local malls – those bastions of greed and aggressive merchandising – seem tainted by a flagrant disregard for the very difficult circumstances in which so many people find themselves. It makes the incessant sounds of “The Little Drummer Boy” sound strangely out-of-tune with the times.
I will admit it is a dilemma. We hear on the news that, to lift ourselves from the aftermath of the recession, we must spend. But maybe it’s time to recognize that we will not be returning to the levels of spending that existed before the recession. And there are hard consequences as a result. As the king in “The King and I” said: “It is a puzzlement.”