50 Years Ago: Christmas Shopping
When November was scarcely half spent, the shops began to make their special displays. Now, as I write, the wares of the world are heaped behind the shining windows. Like so many Aladdin’s caves they will yield their store to him who has the golden key; to all other the frail glass pane is a barrier impassable.
And who are they that can command the best and largest share? Those who took no part in producing it … Alaskan furs, Chinese silks, ivories of Japan, Sheffield cutlery, Spanish, Arabian and Tasmanian fruits, do not create and convey themselves, even at Christmas time. That which shaped, transported and arranged them was your work, and that of your fellows in all corners of the earth.
These goods, and the posters that advertise them, the factories where they were made and the machines within the factories, the engines and ships that carried them here—you made them all. Yet your part in the season’s celebrations is to watch more fortunate folks enjoy them, and feel your own needs more bitterly. You who have distant friends and families—why cannot you visit them? You fathers and mothers of children, do not even their small delights mean the sacrifice of something necessary to yourselves?
There are young men and girls among you who dreamed homes of your own; and this winter finds you further off than ever from your desires.
If a crowning absurdity was lacking, it is supplied by the presence of multitudes who are not even allowed to work.
(From an article in the SOCIALIST STANDARD, December 1922, signed “A”)