Crass consumer culture replaces true spirit of Christmas, holiday season

Nobody ever makes a big deal about Thanksgiving, yet each person looks forward to the annual holiday. For students, it’s particularly welcome because it symbolizes a much-needed break from classes, work and extracurricular activities. Families flock together to overeat, watch football and catch up on each other’s lives. There is very little planning involved, very little stress. Just a nice holiday that lets you bond with your family. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? If so, then why is Christmas so popular?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as the next person. There’s still nothing that compares to walking along quiet roads in December with snow gently falling and ice crystals glistening from the light of the moon. But these days, American society has been bombarded with consumerism and Christmas is turning into a holiday about buying gifts. No longer is it about spending time with your family, baking cookies, singing carols and going on sleigh-rides. Sure, all of those things are included, but what’s the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of Christmas? Presents.

We are constantly told in today’s society that money is a way to measure your self-worth, and Christmas is no exception. If you’re broke this year and really can’t afford to buy a lot of people the grandeur gifts that they are all dying for, well, you’re not pulling your weight and need to step it up. Today, kids throw a fit if they unwrap all of their gifts under the tree and don’t find the expensive, updated gaming system they have been begging for. Instead of being grateful for what they did receive, or realizing that mom and dad figured out what the child really needs rather than what they want, they pout with their arms crossed over their chest and sulk in the corner.

It doesn’t begin on Christmas Day, either. In fact, it starts right after Thanksgiving. How many people woke up at 2 a.m. this year so they could be at a store at 3 a.m. for Black Friday? Thanksgiving, unfortunately, is the last day of sanity before people are catapulted into the craziness surrounding Christmas. People have been trampled to death, shoved into garbage bins and physically beaten because others want to get to a prized gift first.

Growing up, Christmas wasn’t even a thought in my family’s mind until the beginning of December. The tree went up two weeks before Christmas Day and stayed until the beginning of January. Christmas music wasn’t played until December either. Now, stores shove Christmas down shoppers’ throats before Halloween is over, and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is blasted on the radio before Thanksgiving. To America’s piggy bank, Thanksgiving doesn’t cultivate a lot of profits, except to propel people into Black Friday anxiety. With each passing year though, Christmas rakes in so much money that people now need a mental shield to fight the demands of instant gratification.

For Thanksgiving this year, I spent the holiday with 15 family members. The only stress involved making sure the kids ran outside enough to burn off all of their energy, and make sure no one was lost. Nobody exchanged presents or worried about money; everyone was relaxed and enjoying the day with family instead of worrying if they bought the right thing or wore the right clothes. The only gift required was each person’s presence because after all, it’s a gift to see your family all together once more.

That’s what the holidays should always be about.