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A Charge to Charge

by Christina Ritchie Rogers

December 4,2005

Do you shop efficiently? I was recently able to enter a mall, purchase my merchandise, and leave having heard only ONE Christmas song. Impressive, eh? It‘s not what your thinking- if I knew the secret to actually be able to do that, I’d never ask for another gift ever again. But I’m not lying about the one song- I really did it. I managed to shop for three hours and listen solely to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” In Dillard’s I heard French hens, there were seven pipers in Ann Taylor Loft, by Hecht’s it was only day two, and oddly enough there were five golden rings in Baby Gap. It was November fifteenth. Christmas was more than a month away and I was being forced to inhale it like some sort of noxious “spend more money“ gas.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to use this page as a soap box to speak out against the sickeningly materialistic monster that this time called “the holidays” has become. Well, starting now I won’t. In fact, reader, ignore all those people blabbing on about how we as a society have lost sight of what is truly important and rich about the holidays. Forget all that. I charge you to be MORE materialistic. Breathe it in deep. Spend, travel, wrap, hoard, buy two or three, splurge, and treat. Do it all. In fact, I’ll even tell you where, who, and how.

On purchase! On credit! On styles! On spend!

Charlotte has a lot to offer to the holiday shopper. NASCAR fans can find a plethora of precious items. Collectable automotive glass ornaments, commemorative materials, and even a decorative throw blanket are all available. Shoe-shopaholics can feed their need at any of Charlotte’s fine malls, including the special early gift of the new North Lake Mall. North Lake warmly welcomes everyone and every thing- animals can even get their picture taken with Santa. All around there are special concerts, special promotions, and special deals. Around town, Christmas trees abound, decorations glow, and seasonal music fills the air…everywhere! Sale signs, like beacons, guide shoppers through a sea of gift wrap, gift cards, and gift receipts.

On balance! On giving! On sharing! On lend!

In addition to many seasonal shopping options that keep us reaching into our wallets, Charlotte has many opportunities for us to reach out to our community- that is, the people outside our mall, the people outside our family, the people inside our city.

Think BIG. Whatever your traditions, I hope you delight in them fully. And as you do, reader, create a balance in your holiday. After filling your car with NASCAR collectables, make a plan to attend the next Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC) event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Or, after hanging the final painted glass racecar on your tree, donate to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. While enjoying the warmth of candlelight on your advent wreath, Menorah, or Kwanzaa table, think how easy it is to offer warmth to the people at Urban Ministries by donating the winter clothing you probably replaced at the mall this morning. Or, after a long day of shoe shopping, throw on your comfortable sneakers, head to the warehouse, and help stuff shoeboxes to the brim with toys for Operation Christmas Child. Take in a show, enjoy the Rockettes at the Blumenthal, and remember what makes it possible. Take your beloved pets to get their picture taken with their newest sibling -one from any of the Charlotte animal rescue centers. See more, do more, buy more! Overstock your cabinet or cornucopia and give the extra away! Get your change at the grocery store and put it in the red bucket outside! Buy gifts galore for your own children, and then do it for two more! Three more! More! More! More! The malls say so, the TV says so, the mail says so, so…do it. It’s the dizzying, omnipresent, mantra of the season. Whether you agree or disagree with the material motives of the masses, the confusion and excitement is inevitable (even enjoyable?)-so why not extend it‘s reach? Share more, offer more, commit more. And be thankful to live in a city that offers many accessible, diverse, and important ways to do so. I wish you all happy balancing.

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