Capitalism at the center of Chri$tmas
Houses are strewn with vivid, shining Christmas lights. Front lawns are littered with plastic-inflatable Santas, snowmen and reindeer. All you have to do to feel the spirit of Christmas is take a walk through the winter-wonderland that your local mall has fabricated.
Store windows (and halls) are decked with cheesy advertisements broadcasting special holiday offers in hackneyed Christmas lingo. Christmas playlists litter the air with about 50 nauseatingly repetitious versions of “Let it Snow” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” Christmas is a wonderful time of year. However, like eggnog, the Christmas spirit shouldn’t be left sitting out for two whole months.
Businesses seem to be waiting on their haunches to spring into action on the first of November. Like clockwork, Halloween ends and Christmas decorations are up in stores the next day. That is, if they weren’t up already. The collective goal of the retailing world seems to be this: push Christmas early and milk it for every nickel it’s worth. Everyone is too taken in holiday rapture to stop and ask why they’re hearing “Mary, Did You Know?” two months before Christmas. Our society regularly celebrates Christmas for 1/6 of the year. Think about that.
Christmas has overstepped its boundaries, big time. Not only has Christmas smashed its way into the month of November, but it’s smothering the spirit of Thanksgiving too. The pilgrims were grateful and satisfied that they had enough resources to make it through the winter. Today, “winter’s necessities” seem to include a pile of gift-wrapped superfluities beneath the tree.
Thanksgiving has become nothing more than an obligatory nod to contentment before an onslaught of materialistic panic. It’s supposed to be a time to reflect on the blessings in our lives, but what happens the very next day? Black Friday: a day where people maul each other to get their hands on the best deals first. People pitch tents outside of stores to be the first ones there when the doors open. The hype associated with pseudo-holiday borders on mania. People have actually gotten hurt by the cutthroat demeanor of the self-entitled Black Friday shopper. Is that what Christmas has come to? The spirit of Christmas has been replaced with combative and competitive consumerism. Peace and goodwill towards man sounds nice, but it’d better not get in the way of someone and their new flat-screen TV.
Contrary to the advertisements, retailing conglomerates don’t really care about holiday spirit; they care about making out like the Grinch. The “holiday spirit” you see in commercials is more artificial than your grandmother’s pink Christmas tree. And the retailing world is not beyond using your Christmas ardor for their own purposes. Somehow, products people would never otherwise buy become irresistible when they’re green, red and wrapped in a sparkly bow. Christmas is losing its status as a celebration and is just becoming another lucrative business venture.
Even though excessive commercialism greatly detracts from the true spirit of Christmas, it only ruins Christmas if you let it. Christmas is still a special time of togetherness, nostalgia and genuine cheer for many people. For Christians, it represents a time when hope incarnate entered an otherwise hopeless world. No amount of commercial madness can take away the value God’s greatest gift to mankind. So this Christmas, challenge yourself to focus on what really matters even when the whole world is obsessing over the next Furby.
Christian Stewart- More by this author
Christian Stewart is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.