During this first holiday season on the road leading out of the recession, American consumers are taking different approaches in their decision-making.
Black Friday brought the requisite, shameful Web videos of elders being trampled in the stampede for a Pillow Pet or a $3 toaster, and Cyber Monday upped the stakes in an entirely different sort of consumer game, driven in large part by the flash-sale websites that have literally exploded in number and popularity this year.
On the other end of the spectrum, many celebrated "Buy Nothing Day." Others engaged in some of both; I bought usable gifts for kids only, and donated or sold 200 items of clothing, books and furniture for the holidays.
Even retailers capitalized on the dichotomy, with one luxury automaker promoting a "Season of Reason" sales event in which buyers were invited to "oversave" for gifts and personal purchases by spending $50,000 or more on a new car (irony, anyone?).