As most of us settled down to digest our nice Thanksgiving meals, there was a creature stirring. It is an animal called consumerism, and it was busy tearing apart yet another American holiday. For the first time ever, stores bucked the usual trend of opening at 5 a.m. and opted instead to open at midnight on Thanksgiving night. Is it really necessary to open stores for shopping before most of us have even finished digesting the dinner we had just shared with our friends and family?
This is not a new disease, however, but merely a symptom of the larger one: the hijacking of Christmas. For those of you that don’t know it, Christmas is the time of the year where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Not to sound like some weird cross between Bill O’Reilly and Linus from “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown,” but why does Christmas have to be so commercial? Most of our other religious days have already been taken over by Hallmark. St. Valentine’s Day is devoted to eating chocolate and chalky candy hearts, and St. Patrick’s day is basically an excuse for everyone to pretend to be Irish (i.e. drink).
Memories of eggnog and trimming the tree with your family are now replaced by the memory of stomping some guy to get that PS3 to purchase your child’s love for another year.
Year to year, most of our memories of Christmas probably aren’t about what we got or what we gave to someone else. More often than not, it’s those special moments, be they endearing, awkward or just personal.
I find that I don’t remember what I got for Christmas. The memories of what toys or sweaters or other material goods that I found wrapped beneath the tree are long gone. What I remember most is going over to my grandfather’s house on Christmas Eve to drop off the presents and then sitting there with him, bathed in the light from the Christmas tree and talking with him about sports, politics and whatever else was on our minds as a Frank Sinatra CD played in the background. The presents were just an excuse.
My closets and drawers are filled with random things I never used that I received as gifts, but my mind is full of memories like these from holidays passed. I’m not suggesting you pull a Frank Costanza, buy an aluminum poll and start celebrating Festivus, but if you want change, start with yourself. Make your Christmas about things like faith, hope and love.
They are a lot more valuable, even if they are cheaper than a PlayStation 3.