Let me be the very first to wish you a merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, joyous Kwanzaa, good solstice, auspicious Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, or whatever you celebrate in December.
I know it’s scarcely Thanksgiving, but the signs of the holiday season have been around since well before our pumpkins were smashed in a post-Halloween sugar daze. Hopefully I’ve gotten to you before anyone else, but I doubt it.
I don’t like to sound cynical, but we know the truth: Holiday shopping is a year-round pursuit now. If you want the really good deals, you have to go to the mall on the day after Christmas. Or in mid-January. Or after Valentine’s Day. Maybe you prefer the holiday bargains of mid-summer, when winter fashions are all the rage.
All right, I admit it: my name is Noah Fleisher, and I’m an avowed cynic when it comes to holiday shopping.
This time of year brings out my natural tendency towards such attitudes. It’s hard not be affected by hyper-saturation of corporate advertising telling me to shop at this big store, or buy this big item. Or that I need to by a huge piece of singing, dancing, glittering plastic for my 2-year-old daughter that has no inherent value beyond today.
Thanksgiving used to be the start of the holiday season, and a day that was about family, friends and good food. It still represents those things, but just barely. To the majority of the nation, it marks the beginning of a month-long frenzy of consumerism. To the antiques business it represents the antithesis of everything we stand for. Commercialism rules: run out quick, make impulse purchases of disposable goods and don’t worry about the price until next year when the credit-card bills arrive.
To the contrary, what antiques teach us is to not only be well informed, but to be well considered. Take time, work with a dealer, with the right resource materials and find the very best example of whatever it is that sparks our passion. A good purchase – whether it’s $50, $500 or $5,000 – can often take shape over the course of years, not 30 seconds worth of commercials.
Here lies the beauty of dealing in history. There’s gravitas to acquiring an antique, and a sense of responsibility in taking possession of something that has survived the lifetimes of several owners. This is what I wish I could relay to society at large when celebrities shill junk at me in the name of holiday familial affection.
If this simple message could be made available to – and accepted by – society at large, then who knows where it might lead us. It wouldn’t just mean that antique dealers, auctions and shows would be the places to which consumers would turn to find tokens of sincere affection for those they love. It might well lead to the very healing of our broken society itself, to the joining together of our fractured mass consciousness, to the very end of evil in the world …
Maybe I’m getting carried away here, but let me take back what I said earlier: I’m not an avowed cynic. I’m actually a frustrated optimist, one who wishes the gospel of this wonderful pursuit of antiques could be made global for all the good it represents, and one who sincerely wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season, however you choose to celebrate.