Years ago I was a big holiday shopper. A lot of things have changed over the years. The pleasure of leisurely shopping (or frantically shopping, depending on your holiday persona) has been replaced with concern over dwindling monetary resources and rising prices.
One free experience we can all still enjoy is discovering what this year's special 'in' gifts might be. It cost nothing but time and the mind-set to not be deliriously jealous. It is interesting and sometimes enlightening perusing the pages of a particular catalog for a look at how, as they used to say - the other half lives. I will update the saying for twenty-first century readers. Those of us comprising 99% of the economic pool can take a peek into the lives of the few, the minority, the wealthy scattered throughout our vast nation - the one percent of the population privileged enough to pay minimal taxes while reaping the rewards of capitalism.
I do not know any one percenters, or at least I do not think I do. (Who knows, maybe some school acquaintance from decades ago clawed their way into the realm of one percenters; if so, I am happy for them but do not expect to hear from them soon). I readily admit I know a lot of people who are quite happy with their lives - including me - even as they spend their lives working, playing and living with the other 99 percenters.
Once a year everyone can enjoy the guiltless pleasure of peeking into the lives of the one percent. Many of them, those who have already 'made it' and those still clawing their way up the percentage ladder, are splashed all over the pages of People and other celebrity magazines. Those are not the ones I am interested in. I want a glimpse into the lives of the ones rarely seen by us 99 percenters; the one percenters ensconced on their yachts, behind gated homes, in expensive wood-paneled offices, at private schools, inside country clubs, seated in first class travel accommodations or private jets, vacationing in five star (translation: expensive) hotels and dining at exclusive restaurants.
Each of them must answer this crucial question every year: What do I get my spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, mistress or paramour and the rest of my family for the holidays? Money is no object, so the choices are limitless. One percenters have everything, so what can be purchased that is special, unique, unforgettable (or at least not immediately forgettable)?
The one percenters' can find the answer to this question in the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog.
Neiman Marcus catered to the elite since the first store opened in Dallas, Texas in 1907. Oil-rich Texans were the store's initial focus, but its reputation grew and eventually customers came from throughout the country and Europe. Moderate priced clothes were introduced during the Depression and war years of the 1930s and 1940s, but the store remained focused on serving the upper class.
One of the most brilliant marketing schemes of all time was unveiled by the company in its 1960 Christmas Catalog - His and Her outrageously expensive fantasy gifts. His and her cars, airplanes, submarines and robots are examples of the featured items over the years.
We wait impatiently for the release of each year's catalog, eager to find out the latest his and her gifts and browse through the pages, gawking at the gadgets and other merchandise the one percenters will spend their holiday dollars on this year.
We need wait no longer for the 85th edition of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. You, too, can slowly examine each page at your leisure. All you need is a comfortable seat, computer and your lifeline to the web.
Just in case you do not have time right now, let me fill you in on some of the highlights. This year's His and Hers fantasy gift is called Dancing Fountains from WET, the company that brought us the fountains at the Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel. I won't go into details, but if you are interested check out the catalog and write a check for one million dollars.
How about a Ferrari sportscar for $395,000 for your significant other? Unfortunately your loved one will not find it under the tree this year. Delivery cannot be made until spring 2012.
I loved the luxury yurt for $75,000. For those not familiar with Mongol (the people who live in the country of Mongolia) lifestyles, they live in yurts, which are round tents. They have been living in yurts for thousands of years. The Neiman Marcus yurt is American made. I imagine it will appeal to the one percenters in Mongolia as well as those closer to home. The yurt is 12 1/2 feet high and 18 feet in diameter. The luxury model has linen wall coverings, a crystal chandelier and one-of-a-kind hand-embroidered down pillows. And - I know this will make the sale for you readers - there is no extra charge for shipping and installation on the estate of your choice.
But I do not want to ruin the experience for you. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or perhaps something more potent and click here for a look at the 2011 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book.
In all fairness to Neiman Marcus I will mention the fact that the catalog offers items 99 percenters may be able to afford; there are gifts for a couple of hundred dollars and less. I have not yet reviewed every catalog page for specifics.