Monday, December 10, 2012

GUEST: J.W. Nicklaus

Can We Out-spend Our Discontent?
by J. W. Nicklaus

John Steinbeck's words prophetically float to mind: Now is the winter of our discontent.

As of this writing (which certainly won't coincide with your reading), the media are stepping all over themselves to quote economists who are injecting their mantra of the death-of-the-recession to all within earshot. Obviously there are way too many unemployed Americans who don't see eye-to-eye with their diagnosis. 

And here we go into the busiest capitalist orgy of the year—the holiday shopping season, and everything it entails. We’re conditioned... no... expected, to drop our fiscal wads over gifts for everybody we know. Sometimes, even for people we don't like, say at the office; that's got to be like chewing on sandpaper! Yet with so many out of work, and some even having their unemployment benefits expire, it amazes me even more this year that the retail barons still put on the full-court press of seasonal spending Bacchanalia. As a matter of course, I understand that for many retailers the holiday season is when they make the bulk of their money for the year. But for my money there are a number of things which they have yet to be able to profit upon, simply because they are indeed priceless:

The snow will still fall where it's cold enough to freeze the angels’ tears. 
Meals will be shared and memories created amidst the bare trees of winter and in close proximity to the warmth of a carefully tended fire inside, the frost on the windowpanes flickering from the glow within the fireplace.

Children will laugh as they play in the snow. 

And all of that comes to us regardless of the economic climate. Except for those of us who don’t live in snow country—we spray white stuff on our trees and eat snow cones instead. It’s the best you can hope for at lower elevations. 

But what if we took a decidedly simpler approach to the holidays, like before the over-indulgence of credit cards? 

What if we still hung our stockings by the chimney with care
And actually spent less than ever we’d dare
It’s not always the gift, rather the thought we find nice
Nurturing the human touch has no monetary price

And when trimming the tree keep it simple but complete
Use stringed popcorn, it’s cheap and good eats
And those holiday cards, sure they’re nice to get
But nowadays we text or send them over the ‘net

Many a consumer can say “Of money, we have little”
At times like these we can’t just meet in the middle
We all want the holidays to feel better, to dispel our worst fears
Above all the clatter we hope to be of good cheer

Perhaps the hard times can restore focus to the season
And remind us that to buy gifts really isn’t its reason
It’s more subtle
More soulful
Even quietly profound
It’s the one time of year we should feel better, all around

Though the weather may be chilly
And our wallets wafer thin
Remember that it’s not what you spend that’s important
It’s what bubbles up from within

Respectfully I suggest a return to simplicity,
The seasons trapping should reflect our plight
And God bless us all, every one of us
Trust in yourselves, not your dollars, America . . . and all will be right

About the Author:

J.W. Nicklaus attests to living somewhere between the city closest to the Sun and upon the precipice of Hell—but the winters are mild in Arizona. An avid reader and peerless amateur philosopher, he is “DNA and energy. I am cellular and soulful. I am shadow and light. I am carbon and water . . . and I am stardust. As are we all.” His singular ambition is simple: to leave the world a slightly better place than when he came into it.

J.W.'s latest book is the fiction drama novella, The Apocalypse of Hagren Roose.

You can find out more about J.W. at

Or, visit him on Facebook 

About the Book:

Once a small-town success and happy family man, Hagren Roose finds his slide backwards at once abrupt and wrenching. His small-town mentality sets him on a journey of his own making, of which he has no control—and only he can atone for.


  1. Denyse, thanks for the opportunity to speak my piece on your blog! I appreciate it very much :^)

  2. Yes, yes yes.

    I grew up believing the only true Christmas was what I saw in these ads: Snow falling, carolers outside our doors, a lighted Christmas tree with presents, lots of presents , and a fireplace for warmth. Ads told me this is what Christmas was about.

    Where I grew up in Hawaii , we had no electricity. Snow was on top of Mauna Kea Mountain. Our tree was a droopy tree from the hillside, and homemade comic strip chains wound around the tree. The bottom of the tree was not covered with gifts. Until I understood this false image created by ads, Christmas was something to be desired; Christmas was created for someone other than myself. I was always that child looking into windows.

    How many children are there right now, staring at TV screens and newspaper ads, wanting, knowing these ads are meant for others. We have separated our world into two: theirs and ours.

    Yes, let's return to simple.
    Let's turn our backs to these ads and bring the true meaning of gift-giving back . Perhaps we will be able to preserve the true Christmas spirit that will continue beyond the 25th.

    Today, Bob the electrician who was here to do some work, mentioned how he did some work for a man. Through conversation he realized the man was jobless and not able to pay much. Bob handed him a hundred dollar bill and walked out. He laughingly said, "Imagine that, I go to do some work for some guy and I pay him for the work I did. "

    Why don't they tell these stories in those ads?

    One Christmas, my internist asked five of his patients to join him in preparing a Christmas dinner for each of his shut-in patients. On Christmas Day, we gathered at his house, roasted turkeys and delivered a complete dinner to each of his patients . Their inability to express their gratitude was our gift.

    Without rehearsal, we later went to a nursing facility and sang Christmas carols. A woman asked me, "Do you have a CD that I can buy?" Now, that made my day because I'm not Julie Andrews, and that night, I became a caroler instead of waiting for one.

    Yes, lets return to simple. Someday, there will be no tree ornaments made by precious grubby hands of your child. There will be no poems or letters hand-written by your teenager, or a home-made lop-sided mug to hold all your pens. No, your gifts will be duplicated in hundreds of other households if we let the media control our lives.

    Thank you for this pause, Mr. Nicklaus.

  3. You have, most eloquently and with aching repetition, hit the mark I wished to make.

    The media will always do what creates the greatest revenue stream; retailers will always respond to what consumers want; The choice lay in our willingness to firmly stand upon one side or the other and then propagate those values.

    The children deserve and want the magic this time of year . . . the rest of us need it.

    Thank you very much for your honest and heartfelt comment.


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.