Material World Told to Spend Less, Be Happy; Pope, Wal-Mart Hail New Culture of Thrift

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Material World Told to Spend Less, Be Happy; Pope, Wal-Mart Hail New Culture of Thrift


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Wear out your shoes, and hail the humble meal and modest celebration. The new frugality, thrifty chic, recessionist culture - it's a global thing. And it's good for us.

The Pope says so.

Perhaps the world crisis that is affecting so many families and all of humanity could be the stimulus for rediscovering the warmth, simplicity, amity and solidarity which are the very values of Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday during his weekly audience with visitors and clergy.

Stripped of its materialistic and consumer trappings, Christmas offers a chance to welcome as a personal gift the message of hope that emanates from the mystery of Christ's birth, he added. Even a nonbeliever can perceive something special, transcendent and intimate that speaks to the heart.

Wal-Mart agrees, judging by its new motto, Save money. Live better. And at least one therapist vouches for thrift as the new global virtue.

Forced frugality will give folks the chance to really examine their priorities and reconsiderthe role and meaning of gifts and holiday expenses. With less comes more appreciation and gratitude for what you have and what you're given, said Kit Yarrow, a psychologist with Golden Gate University.

It's hard not to live large, though - and the transition from prosperity to possible penury is rife with stress. Still, such circumstances prompt us to get kinder and more protective with one another, which is psychologically healthier, Miss Yarrow said.

People are resilient, more than they think, she added.

Indeed, a Zogby poll of 1,039 adults released Wednesday found that while 71 percent of Americans plan to cut back on their holiday spending this year, 72 percent also are convinced that the economy will recover and 91 percent remain proud of their country. …

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