Christmas is a big deal in my family. We don’t give a lot of gifts, it’s more about spending time together. Trying to find the right gift and to buy things of equal value for everyone takes a lot of time, and it’s pretty stressful. Materialism takes away from the focus of what Christmas should be.
Christmas is a religious holiday, but that never was the focus for my family. My dad’s idea of celebrating Sunday was staying in bed. He would tell my mom he was attending services at St. Mattress. When my dad was a kid, my grandmother used to drop my dad off to attend Sunday school with change to put in the collection plate, but that money never made it into the offering basket. He would sneak out of the service and use the money to buy tasty cakes at a corner store. Church was never my family’s focus. So Christmas has always just been a time for us to be with family, whether it was just with my brother and sister or with my the rest of the family in Pennsylvania.
Christmas means many things to different people. I understand why corporations capitalize on a holiday that is about giving. Although, they spin Christmas to be about buying, not so much giving. Still, something is very wrong about putting up a Christmas sales displays right after Halloween. I remember going to Shaw’s Supermarket looking for discounted Halloween candy on Nov. 1, and seeing the holiday aisle all decked out for Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving and the discounted Halloween Candy? They skipped it all, including Thanksgiving. Now that is just wrong.
Retailers are pushing Christmas shopping earlier than ever. It has never been more obvious that the focus is on getting consumers to buy more sooner. It has gotten ridiculous. Black Friday has bled into Thanksgiving day, and it is total pandamonium. Every year you see something on the news about someone getting trampled or someone fighting over a sweater. Who camps out at a store to get a deal? I don’t care how amazing the discount is, that just seems crazy to me. People are losing their civility over a sale. At this point, Christmas isn’t about giving, it is about buying.
Along with the shopping comes the corny romantic comedies. There is always a new movie that cable channels advertise and push. It is a marathon of cliche movies all building up to this new, but very predictable film. There is no cinematic value to these movies. These really have nothing to do with the holiday really, except that it takes place near December 25. In all, they just exist to gain viewership.
Christmas parties now start in late November. We don’t even wait until December. I like parties, but the Christmas theme is overdone. It used to be great foods and drinks with Christmas music. Now there is a “theme.” There are ugly sweater parties, Christmas onesie parties, and every office seems to have an office Christmas party too. Each require me to either bring a gift, cookies, or a covered dish.
Somewhere along the line we forgot that Christmas is about giving and cherishing the people we love. It is about putting them first, and enjoying fellowship with others. It is not about giving the most gifts, finding the best buy, or attending/hosting the most parties. None of that matters. It is about being together and loving each other. Let’s not lose that this year.
Austin Cook can be contacted