Written By: Landon Watford
St. Nick did not intend to sell his soul to large corporations. It seems that each year we begin celebrating Christmas sooner. I wish I could say this is due to an increase in Christmas spirit, but it is instead an attempt by companies to increase revenue. On Halloween night, candy corn is replaced by candy canes. By November 1, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is opening its doors and Christmas music begins playing in department stores. We are bombarded with Christmas before we even get the chance to eat turkey and mashed potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, however, it has become so highly commercialized that it hardly resembles its true meaning.
So what is the meaning of Christmas? The answer can be found in the very word: CHRISTmas. Whether people choose to recognize it or not, Christmas is a Christian holiday just as much as Hanukkah is a Jewish one. We recognize classic carol lyrics like “Joy to the World” but forget that the words “the Lord has come,” come right after. The reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Everything else, from the lights to Santa Claus himself, are just add-ons. But even if you are not of the Christian faith, there is still something to be said about the way that the values of Christmas have been manipulated.
When people think Christmas, many things come to mind: presents, Santa, Christmas trees, presents, Mariah Carey, mistletoe, and more presents. A holiday that should promote generosity and gratitude has evolved into a consumer culture machine. This is why we see people scavenging for Black Friday doorbusters on the very day that they should be thankful for the things they already have. What are they shopping for most of the time? Christmas presents.
There is nothing wrong with gift-giving. In fact, the idea of giving gifts originated as a symbolic homage to the offerings that the Three Wise Men brought to baby Jesus. Giving someone a present should be a sign of appreciation and love. However, when the spirit of giving is transformed into giving simply because it is expected, the meaning behind it is completely lost. Because gifts are expected at Christmas, there is an automatic pressure to make sure that no one is left out. Christmas shopping becomes a checklist. One in which presents are bought just to cross out a name. Instead of putting time and effort behind the gift, we often pick something that is just good enough to assure that the gift won’t be tossed into the “white elephant” pile. I will point out that this may not be true for everyone. But, whether you enjoy gift-giving or not, there is a definite stress and financial burden that comes around every holiday season.
A Harris Poll survey conducted on behalf Suntrust revealed that if given the chance to give up the holiday gift-giving tradition, 69% of people surveyed said they would. So why don’t we? Because everything around us screams holiday shopping. Beyond the stores, we pour money into holiday amusement parks and waiting in line to tell Santa what we want for Christmas .
Christmas has become a profiteering holiday, instead of a charitable one.
So this holiday season, I challenge you to take a step back. Whatever your reason for the season is, honor it. Ditch the stores and spend quality time with the people you love. Instead of buying another set of reindeer ears, give those two-dollars to the Salvation Army or any other charity. If you truly love giving, then consider organizing a toy drive. Be present, instead of worrying about presents. And most importantly, remember that Christmas is supposed to be a time of community, love, and hope.