At last, the most wonderful time f the year has arrived! Time to break out the lights, get a tree and pend all of your spare money on gifts. From Black Friday to Christmas Day, sales surge as people pre- are for the holidays. Every year that goes by, Christmas seems to become more and more commercialized, which many view as a per-version of the holiday. Commercialization—the big, bad product of capitalism—isn’t all that bad this time of year, though. With the generosity and inclusiveness it brings, the commercialization of Christmas fits right into the holiday spirit.
All across the internet, television and pop culture, there is one clear message around the holiday season. *NSYNC said it best when Justin Timberlake sang, “Ain’t no lie, baby buy, buy, buy.” Santa Claus isn’t bringing holiness and peace down the chimney—he’s bringing toys. Children wait all year long for the season when they can ask for things they want, while adults indulge in the excitement of exchanges like Secret Santa, because presents are fun for everyone.
To some, however, the idea that Christmas is a time to go and buy things is an insult to what they view as the true meaning of the holiday. Common criticisms of the way America handles Christmas include that the only reason the Christmas season starts so early is to make more money, that the holiday has become a clever idea to make Americans work harder and spend more and that presents have taken precedence over all the other aspects of Christmas. Furthermore, many Christians feel as though a day that is extremely important to them spiritually has been twisted by greed through capitalism, and that some people are disrespecting Christianity by embracing commercialized Christmas. However, there is a reason Christmas is the most popular holiday in the world—it’s extremely enjoyable. Much of what makes the Christmas season enjoyable is the commercialization of the holiday, which promotes and sells all the greatest things related to Christmas, including powerful and important values like generosity and inclusive- ness. These Christmas values show that, while the holiday season is definitely a massive financial exploit from a capitalistic point of view, it also provides a perfect opportunity to embrace some of the most humanitarian ideals.
The holidays are a time to show love to family, friends and strangers, and for many, a present is just the way to do that. Of course, the price of a gift doesn’t determine its value. The gift of a handmade card may be more meaningful than a new video game or cool gadget, and all it costs is a piece of paper and a pen. Nonetheless, the commercialization of Christmas is what encourages present-giving of any type. Buying gifts doesn’t just benefit the gift recipients, either. Generosity warms the soul and leaves a person feeling satisfied, just like a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a cold winter day. We spend money on ourselves all year long — it’s good to have an excuse to spend it on others, too.
Even more important than the generosity brought about by the commercialization of Christmas is the inclusiveness it brings. Most full-time jobs do not require people to work on Christmas, enabling peo- ple from any culture in the U.S. to get together with family and friends, give gifts and share meals. Accord- ing to a 2013 Pew Research poll, about 92 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas—a number that includes Christians, Jews, Hindus,
Buddhists and people with no faith. This part of the year is a time for welcoming people of all cultures and faiths to come together and share in the magic that is the holiday season. Much of the inclusivity of Christmas comes from the excitement of giving and receiving presents, which is exactly what commercialization advocates. If you remove capitalism from Christmas, however, then all that is left is a Christian holiday. Instead of a time of inclusiveness and joy, Christmas would simply be another asterisk on the calendar.
The holiday season is difficult. This is a time when stressors from all areas of life team up with sea- sonal depression and extreme cold to try and make life around the holidays miserable. We could all use some generosity and love right now—so please, don’t hesitate to show the people you love that you are thinking about them this holiday season. Whether you make a card for your parents, crochet a hat for your friend or buy jewelry for your significant other, strive to make some gesture to those you care about. After all, there is no better way to spend a dollar than on someone you love. Happy holidays!