Thanksgiving just passed, and the winter holidays are right around the corner. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more are fast approaching, and with them, the pressure to do a bunch of things that require spending money. Among these are two of the most expensive holiday traditions: gift giving and decorating. Many people feel it would not be a proper winter holiday without these two aspects. They have become ingrained into society and it is expected that you participate. The true purpose behind these holidays is to spend time with the people you love, whether they be blood family or found family. Not only can these two traditions break the bank, they can also become so overwhelming that the true meaning behind holidays can be masked and forgotten.
Lights are pretty, gifts give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside and, sure, both may be connected to the purpose of holidays. You can decorate with your family, and heart-felt gifts are exchanged between loved ones. But they are not what people are supposed to be focused on contrary to what tends to happen in modern times. Why has society moved further and further away from the true meaning of holidays? They have become too commercialized for the sake of a select group of people making money.
Starting as early as November 1, Christmas decorations overtake shelves at stores, holiday music pours out of every speaker and some people even conclude conversations with a cheerful “happy holidays” or “merry Christmas.” There are donuts decorated with reindeer and coffee cups covered in snowflakes. Products that have nothing to do with the holidays are either red and green for Christmas or blue and white for Hanukkah. The country is overwhelmed by the winter holidays. They are taken from one to eight day celebrations and transformed into taking up two whole months.
The reason behind this is simple: the longer the holidays stretch on, the more money businesses make off of pressuring consumers to make holiday-related purchases. If Christmas products are placed in stores as early as the day after Halloween, consumers will be buying them as early as then as well. People are tempted by the things in front of them. Most of the time, if something is not easily accessible to someone, they will not go out of their way to buy it. This philosophy applies to holiday related things. If every store for every kind of shopping contains holiday goods, consumers will buy them because it is easy. Add that there is a holiday in November that marks things on discount and it results in a massacre to wallets everywhere.
Even Charlie Brown recognizes how over-commercialized the holidays have become. In the classic Christmas movie “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” there is a wonderful quote that summarizes the sentiments of many people that are not part of the corporations that make a profit off of commercialization. The quote is “Isn’t there anyone here who knows what Christmas is all about?” Charlie Brown is upset with his friends after they go to a Christmas tree farm only to discover that all of the trees are fake — another Christmas debate — and his friends get mad when he picks the only real tree there, a sad and tiny sapling. His friends begin spewing insults at him before the famous quote comes out. They are focused on the commercialized aspects of Christmas such as getting the perfect tree, something that most likely can only come from artificial trees that companies make. Charlie Brown is not blinded by the commercialization and chooses to fight against it by getting what is probably one of the saddest looking Christmas trees out there, recognizing that perfect trees are not what Christmas is all about.
Everyone could learn a little bit from Charlie Brown and his blatant disapproval of the commercialization of Christmas. Apply that to every holiday there is and you will be much happier. You will not stress about spending all of your money on the perfect decorations and the best gifts. Instead, once you break free of the commercialization trap, you can begin to rediscover all the little joys that come with spending time with your loved ones when you are not competing for the best gift.