How capitalism ruined Christmas
Black Friday marks the true beginning of the holiday shopping season. Ah, yes. The day that American consumers dream of, setting alarms to wake up extra early, camping out at the door or their local Walmart, all to score a deal on a giant screen TV or some other coveted item no one really needs.
We recently met some friends for dessert on Thanksgiving day. As some were perusing the Black Friday deals, a harrowing story was told.
A few years ago, they were waiting at the local big box store for the games section to be unwrapped, marking that the fight to grab Black Friday bargains had begun. A woman holding an infant let her hunting and gathering desires supersede her mothering instincts, and once the plastic wrap had been cut, threw her baby into the air, diving toward the games. Board games, mind you. Like Scrabble or Monopoly. That infant was instantly trampled as everyone rushed to get to the merchandise. They had to close the store. I’m not certain what happened to the baby.
You see, we are primed to chomp at the bit to save a little money. Advertisements reel us in with the promise of a deal, all if you can get to the store early enough to grab the limited supply available. It’s like runt syndrome. Some may call it FOMO: fear of missing out.
Corporations seem to prey on consumers, coming up with deals to draw us into their stores. I wonder if they sit back and watch video footage of us, laughing hysterically as eager shoppers fight over the crumbs they’ve offered to customers on Black Friday. It’s probably as entertaining to them as the Super Bowl. But then, I’m not a fan of that big game, either.
I am a fan of Black Friday’s companion, Small Business Saturday, however. I do love to support local businesses. Its other companion, Cyber Monday, brought an excessive sum of emails. The sheer volume was overwhelming, flooding my social media feeds with complaints from my friends.
I find myself in recent years, especially now that my children are practically adults, feeling very apathetic about the whole holiday season. It feels so transactional. On a spiritual note, Christmas no longer has the same meaning as it did as a child, as I no longer fully believe in Christianity. The commercialization of the holiday definitely doesn’t help.
The season even begins earlier than it used to. Once Halloween is over, Christmas begins. I remember as a child that a local business started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. A swift boycott followed, the community was so enraged. But now, this is commonplace. Will we buy more if the season starts early?
When you take away all of the icky layers with which commercialism imposed by capitalism has coated the season, we can still salvage this time of year. I still love it. But I have to turn off the ads and ridiculous pressure to buy merchandise to find the simplicity of the holidays. I’ll still put up my tree. I’ll still treasure the time spent with family, but the emphasis is less on the gifts than it is on the joy and traditions of the season.
Are you disenchanted with the holiday season, too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.