Holidays: commercialization competes with quality family time


Holidays have traditionally been a time for family. Getting together for a grand dinner on Christmas Eve or exchanging gifts and eating latkes during Hanukkah are sometimes one of the only occasions that can get a family together. Parents are expected to take off from work, students have Winter Break, and relatives come to town in order to fulfill the purpose of the holidays.

However, in recent years, family has not been the greatest priority of the holiday season for many. Now, parents worry about getting the hottest new toys for their children and Black Friday deals drag people out of Thanksgiving dinners. Commercialization has increased drastically to a point that undermines the meaning of the holidays. These two months are now becoming more about what gifts can be bought for the cheapest price, instead of the thought and care put behind them. Large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy have been offering coupons and sales to the mass public as a way to earn more money, exhibiting the importance put on material objects.

Admittedly, gifts have always been a tradition of these holidays. They show the receiver how well the giver knows him or her, and they show that one person cares enough about the other to spend money and time picking something the other will like. However, while gifts do hold a significance, the amount of emphasis and resources spent on them is reaching an absurd level. Nowadays, when someone says Christmas, a child will always associate it with “presents!” This is not what we want children to prioritize. This time of year is meant to honor and celebrate the people we love and admire, not to get a new TV or iPhone.

This idea of giving and receiving takes away from the true meaning of the holiday. For example, Thanksgiving is a time to show you are grateful for family and friends. But even so, the prospect of Black Friday deals, the desire to be the first one in line, and the fear of sold out signs have deterred the importance of this holiday in many people’s eyes. Now, they don’t look forward to eating with their family; they look forward to getting 50% off on the laptop they want.

Especially Christmas has taken a hit from this rise in commercialization. Once a day to celebrate the birth of Christ, this holiday has become one of the two days of the year that means getting presents (the other being birthdays, which is another example of commercialization ruining a day of commemoration). Parents suffer panic and stress attacks from the overwhelming obligation to get every single person in their lives a gift. Children focus on their wish lists and not on the religious significance of the holiday. To demonstrate this shift to commercialization, society has invented the idea of Santa Claus, a man meant to bring children presents on Christmas day. His sole purpose is to provide a vessel for commercialization. Instead of believing in the sacrifice of Christ, children believe in the ability of international travel in 12 hours.

Commercialization is not a bad thing until it overwhelms the actual purpose of these holidays. Gifts are a way to show the values that the season emphasizes, but they should not be the only way to do so. These two months should be cheerful and happy, but with the increased emphasis on gifts, many people are not enjoying them the way they should. About half the population feel stress during this time of year, and that is not right. Society should put less emphasis on material objects and more emphasis on the true significance of the holiday.