Friday, December 29, 2006

Santa's Closets: When Consumerism Collides with Deception

I said I wasn't going to post anything until the new year, but I just cannot help myself; I must publish one more Christmas post. Perusing through the paper while relaxing at my in-laws, children playing in the floor with various assorted and miscellaneous pieces of soon-to-be dumpster fodder, I came across this AP gem: Self-storage Units become "Santa Closets" to Hide Holiday Gifts.

If Americans did not buy their children too much junk at Christmas anyway, now the self-storage industry is more than happy to rent a unit so you can store all the flotsam your kids don't need at a nominal price. I must admit, I was really concerned as to what to address first in this analysis; the obvious consumerism blatantly endorsed or the deception on the part of untrained children.

I'll give the benefit of the doubt here. Some folks may genuinely not have the storage space for some large items while they await the gifting process; the article mentioned the big-screen TV, a recliner, or a bicycle, and for someone living in a condo or apartment that may be a legitimate concern. But to rent a storage unit because of sheer volume of Christmas glee? A close reading of The Gift of the Magi would be beneficial. Christ has definitely taken a back seat to consumerism and greed. People simply relish having lots of stuff, and not just at Christmas.
One in 11 households currently rent a self-storage unit, compared with one in 17 in 1995. Self-storage facility gross revenues for 2005 were about $18.5 billion, according to the Virginia-based Self Storage Association.

"They treasure these items and keep them for a reason, but they don't want them underfoot," said James Overturf, spokesman of Extra Space Storage, which operates more than 425,000 units in the U.S.
Wow. U-Haul sure is making a lot of money to keep our stuff. Nevertheless, the deception eminent is also overwhelming. The fact that parents need to rent a storage unit outside of their home to hide Christmas gifts staggers me. Is deception a virtue to be lauded? I'm not trying to be too judgmental here nor throw cold water on holiday fun, but when I was growing up I didn't snoop for my Christmas fare. That was a sure way to ensure I wouldn't receive it and that the jolly old elf wouldn't slide down my chimney. However, instead of training junior to actually benefit from the virtue of delayed gratification, you can nurture that greedy spirit by renting a Santa Closet.
Missy Phillips knew she had a big problem on her hands when her boyfriend's 18-year-old son ransacked their house looking for the stash of unwrapped Christmas presents.

To keep the nosy teenager from finding the stereo, video games and hunting bow she and her boyfriend bought him, Phillips had to go out of the house ---- and into a self-storage unit ---- to hide the gifts until Christmas Eve.


Terri Sibbett and her husband manage A-A-A Storage in Nashville and recently posted a listing at that asks, "Wanna keep the Christmas gifts away from those sneaky little ones?" It offers to "Hide the toys from the kids. Hide the boat from your husband."
Yet another way to capitalize on greed and deception. Christmas is all about making money anyway, isn't it?


Geoff Baggett said...

What a hoot! I've always wondered about those self-storage places. They seem to be popping up all over the place. We have one pretty close to our home, right out here in the middle of the boondocks!

We do, indeed, have far to much junk. But I noticed that part of one of the funds that I'm invested in through the AB (Guidestone) is invested strongly in these storage businesses. I guess they are turning a tidy profit.

I did have one gift concealment problem this Christmas. We bought my youngest daughter, Katie (age 13), a new acoustic guitar for Christmas. We didn't have any place to hide it, and we couldn't put here name on such a huge package ... she's a pretty smart kid. So I wrapped it up and put a tag that said it was for her Mom! It worked ... the surprise was awesome.

Tony said...


The storage business is turning a tidy profit with relatively little overhead; certainly very little in payroll. Its amazing what people can make money on in America.

One of those storage units is on hwy 501 from Halifax Co to Lynchburg; which is trees on both sides of the hwy for much of the travel. Then, out of nowhere, sitting between stands of trees is a storage facility, with a "no vacancy" sign at the door. Wow.

I think I took this article a little more seriously than you did (I tend to see a paucity of humor in this kind of stuff, a fault, I know); the consumerism is really disheartening.

Thanks for stopping by!

Geoff Baggett said...

I guess it's better to laugh than to cry, man. What else can we expect from a culture that is trying to fill its spiritual void with all of thses Wal-Mart idols? The truly sad part is that the materialism has infected the church folk just about as much as the rest of the people in our culture.

Tony said...


I agree with you. I think the biggest obstacle to faith these days is tradition; with consumerism, materialism, greed, desire to acquire more stuff, whatever you want to call it, running a VERY close second.

Its killing the church because we offer the Wal-Mart ideologies no significant counter. Huh. Most church leaders don't even recognize its happening because greed is so much a part of their lives they don't even realize its antithetical to the Gospel.

Thanks for the comments!

Dan Edelen said...


I planned on blogging about this very issue, but you beat me to the punch.

I routinely drive past a beautiful shallow river. Along the banks stood a magnificent sycamore I suspect was over 150 years old.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that I didn't see the magnificent twisted crown of the tree. To my horror, as I got closer, I saw that someone had lopped off the entire crown of the tree, leaving a huge trunk with nothing on top.

And for what reason? So people could see a sign for a new self-storage facility that's going up near the tree.

You've got enough metaphors there to write a dozen articles.

Tony said...


Thanks so much for stopping by and for the gracious comments. I still would love to read your take on this issue.