People rush around town, being sure to purchase each and every gift needed to please their children, friends, and other family members. Impatient, they glance at their watches and tap their feet as they wait in lines upon lines that wrap all the way around the store. Walking around a mall, consumers are overwhelmed with larger-than-life window ads shouting “FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY!” with overly-bright colors and overly-large text.
Retail companies work to create the perfect holiday ad: One that will entice customers enough to buy twice the amount they had originally planned. Companies are merely going through the motions of “holiday spirit”; they commercialize the holidays to make customers purchase more than they need. Companies push their ads on TV, posters, radio–everything they can think of. They force flyers upon flyers into consumers’ hands, then check us off their list and begin planning for the next coming year.
How early is too early to air Christmas commercials? The first Christmas ad this year was aired September 8 — much earlier than even the first few Thanksgiving ads. Newsnet5 noted that this has been recorded as one of the earliest Christmas ads of all time. Check! goes the pencil across Kmart’s checklist.
Hailey Gilman wrote an article in The Miami Student that discusses how the holidays have lost their true meaning. “I don’t believe Christmas was ever meant to appear as it currently does with mile-long wish lists and mile-high piles of wrapping paper…Gone are the days of the simplistic families giving children three or four presents and expressing sincere gratitude.”
These past few years, the holiday season has become a bit of a chore. We stress over what to buy as good filler-presents — how many should we buy, when to hand them out, how much money to spend, etc. And then there is always the question of what if Pete from work hands out gifts worth $10 and I only give presents worth $5? What will everyone think of me?
There is also the question of selfishness. We notice when our sibling receives more presents than we do–we can’t deny it, it’s natural. But these days, selfishness has expanded to an even larger extent.
Pretty soon, there will be mini Dudley Dursleys running around counting “37…38..39…” and then retaliate when they don’t hit 50. The selfishness of Christmas has grown significantly, causing us to lose the aspects of Christmas that matter most–the family.
Retail companies feed off our susceptibility to commercialization. We make it so easy for them! But there’s no denying it–a “Buy Two Get Three Free!” window display does attract the eye. Over the past few generations, holidays — Christmas and Black Friday especially — are built up to be all about “How many presents will you buy this Christmas season?” or “How much will you save?”.
Christmas is stripped of the underlying qualities that make it so meaningful. Christmas is meant to be a quiet night in with the closest family members all crowded around a quaint fire, all trading stories and sipping on hot chocolate. Only a few presents are needed for a perfect holiday, all politely hidden under the tree against the backdrop of an early morning sun.
Cody Owens in Kaleidoscope wrote, “Make no mistake about it, Christmas isn’t what it used to be. It has become as commercial as the Super Bowl.” He blames the internet for bringing this whole reign of consumerism to the table. Ads on the Internet make it easy for us consumers to just click a button and then there we are, purchasing too many things for too much money without even having to leave the couch.
In addition to Black Friday, retailers created the famous Cyber Monday to accommodate for the ever-growing world of online shopping. “Consumers now don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own homes to cash in on the deals that retailers try and pass off as being done purely in the spirit of giving,” wrote Owens.
We have lost sight of the holiday season. It doesn’t matter how many lights we staple up or how many pumpkins we carve, or how big a tree we buy–holidays should be more than that, regardless of the religion.
Families need to not rush to the store in hurried frenzies trying to save on the ending deal. We should all slow down and keep time as in-the-moment as possible. Each gift we buy should be well thought out in terms of the person it’s intended for; we should use these commercialized deals to our advantage.
The last three months of the year are meant to be the happiest of any other time of year — relax this holiday season.