When you think of Christmas, what do you think of first? Is it snow settling on a windowsill; the warm light of festivities glowing through frosted windows; the family gatherings and holiday cheer? Or is it the decorations, the presents, the giant evergreen with its shining star perched atop? Christmas is a holiday of tradition, but also consumerism. Which of these factors influences the holiday more? Either corporations have simply marketed to the Christmas demand, or they’ve artificially created it in order to reap a tidier profit.
“Companies are influencing [the holiday] and making it bigger, but it’s also the community,” said SBHS student Adan Galindo. “If you know it’s that time of year, and you just feel it, that’s all you need to have Christmas spirit.” For Galindo, it isn’t the decorations or the tree that makes Christmas such a special holiday, it’s the people. “You could interact with others online, but then you’re not directly person to person, you’re not sharing that feeling with others,” he continued. On the other side of the coin, SBHS student London Moro lives for the Christmas style. “Everyone needs decorations. You could have Christmas without them, but a huge part of Christmas is to decorate.” Companies are selling these decorations, but it’s not just decorations that are bought during the holiday fever.
Gifts for other people are a huge part of the season. Practically every company has holiday deals for friends and family. But has gifting become more of a requirement than an act of charity? “I think gifting is kind of dumb,” said SBHS student Hector Lara. “It feels like you’re obligated [to give gifts.] If you don’t give a gift, people will think you’re being a bad person. A gift is supposed to be a gift, you should want to do it out of the goodness of your heart.” He stated that it wasn’t the quality or amount of gifts that made them special, it’s the thought of the gift in the first place. As long as it’s something memorable or significant to the person, it’s a good gift. Moro agreed. “I know exactly what to get the people that I get gifts for, so I’m excited to purchase it and give it to them.”
Christmas commercialism certainly affects adults, but are we indoctrinating our kids into this same holiday spending spree? Kids are taught that when Santa comes to town, you get gifts if you’re a nice person, and coal if you’re naughty. Kids who get coal are supposed to feel sad, while kids who get gifts are happy. As we grow up, does this naughty/nice association stick with us? “No. [Kids] always expect to get a gift, whether it be small or large. I don’t think you should feel bad if you don’t get a gift, there’s more to Christmas than just gifting. It doesn’t matter if there’s presents or not, as long as everyone’s together,” said Galindo. While Christmas may be commercialized, as individuals we can get festive any way we choose.
Image: A section of the Christmas aisles at CVS. [Image Credit: Cole Weaver]