Santa Claus and his sleigh, reindeer, wreaths, Christmas trees, string lights, holiday banners, streamers, glittery window displays and LED light shows are all over the country, especially in America's malls and shopping centres.
The American retailers are participating in an unannounced competition to look better, brighter, cleaner, more attractive and festive than their rivals. A walk along New York City's Fifth Avenue will leave one awestruck. Window displays of major retailers are a visual feast, featuring animations, holiday imageries against enchanting backdrops that attract young and old alike. People stand in rows in the bitter cold of December, often with coffee cups in their hands, to marvel at spectacular Christmas window displays.
The festive mood of the season lifts my spirits every time I enter a mall. There is holiday music playing everywhere. When Andy Williams sings “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” or when Dean Martin's “Let it snow!” fills the air, you feel as if you are in a movie. You are a movie star making millions, so of course, you can afford a little retail therapy this season!
When so much effort is given to draw consumers' attention, how can you, a consumer, possibly not shop? You shop, even if you do not celebrate Christmas at home. You shop, because everyone shops during the holiday season. You shop even if you have enough, or more than enough. You buy things for yourself, your friends and family living here. You buy presents for your friends and family back home. It's true that you have not bought your plane ticket to Dhaka yet, but so what! And when you find nothing to buy, you stock up on clothes, shoes and cosmetics that you can use in future — lip colours that you can wear next fall, or clothes that your 4-year-old child can wear three years later on her seventh birthday. There are always, always good excuses to shop!
The biggest excuse of all: deep discounts. That dress has been marked down from $150 to just $49.99! So, you need to grab it before anyone else does.
And not just shoes, clothes, cosmetics and accessories, you buy food, too, good-tasting food that are rich in saturated fat and sugar. You eat Danish cookies, peppermint Oreos, candy truffles and fruit cake. You drink eggnog latte, hot chocolate and peppermint mocha, all packed with hundreds of calories. But you don't worry about weight during this holiday season. What you do is, stow your weight scale behind your clothes in the closet and forget about it!
Although I spend my money carefully, in this holiday season, I find it especially difficult to keep track of my spending. I step into Macy's and feel as if I have been transported to a different world. The smell of French perfume in the air, the immaculate interior and captivating displays make me want to look around, touch and feel the pretty things, and make purchases against my better judgement. But I am helpless at this time of the year.
'Tis the season after all.