I’m having a problem with Christmas this year, and I obviously don’t care who knows. The rampaging consumerism has been a big turn off for years, but this year it is especially so.

There just seems to be more important things to think about and do than drift through shopping malls listening to canned carols. After what we’ve been through this fall, I can’t muster up a decent “Joy to the World.” Shopping seems so trivial, especially when confronted with everything possible—from telephones to bath towels—covered in the flag.

But there is also a sense that buying anything right now might help out the economy and therefore help us all indirectly. I know buying some CDs or electronics won’t defeat the terrorists, but if it builds consumer confidence it may pull us out of these recessionary doldrums. So I bought myself an expensive gift.

More important, there are charities out there that are distressed more than retailers and which provide a service that’s of more value than socks and slippers. As part of our Winter Guide 2001 we’ll provide information on how you can give of yourself this year by volunteering to work at a nonprofit. Or if that doesn’t suit you, you can give a donation to a charity and get closer to the true meaning of this time.