I’m not the Grinch. You can’t compare me with Ebenezer Scrooge. I don’t sneer at the Christmas carols that stick in your head like the snow glued them in there. I don’t roll my eyes when the decorations begin to sparkle from the windows at my neighbour’s homes. I don’t scowl at the volunteers with their instruments, collecting coins for the Salvation Army at the mall. I actually quite like Christmas.
But here’s the thing (you saw this coming). Christmastime is a season. It’s called Christmastime because there’s a certain amount of time allocated to the festivities. It’s an easy, logical concept, you’d think. We can’t go celebrating Christmas all year round, or else it’d lose its charm. I think that’s something nearly everyone can nod their heads and agree with, even the most decorated Christmas fanatics.
Everyone, except for those insane marketers so looped up in the reins of consumerism that you can’t even think ‘December’ without their blood swimming faster and dollar signs appearing in their eyes.
Now more than ever, retail is trying to extend Christmastime into the rest of the year. According to forbes.com, over $1 trillion was spent on holiday shopping last year alone, and it’s getting to the big corporations big heads. To them, the further they can extend Christmas into the rest of the year, the more money they can rope us into spending on their products. Now, we can barely sit down with our fall leaves before the red and green gifts begin to adorn the store windows. Thanksgiving is barely over before the radio ads begin blasting Christmas jingles in our ears, warning us about how little time we have left. Christmas is beginning to consume all the memorable dates on the fall calendar.
The mall where I work played their first Christmas song on the loudspeakers as little fairies and vampires were still trick-or-treating through our halls on Halloween. C’mon folks, have a little mercy! Beginning to play Christmas music before November has a chance to wake up is ridiculous. Those cheerful Christmas songs tinkling in the background trying to seduce the innocent shoppers into spending more of their hard-earned money is nothing to be proud of. It means nearly two months of the same Christmas bells on repeat. Every. Single. Day. If that’s not enough to dampen Christmas spirit, I don’t know what is.
Aside from the over-anxious retail playlists, what really gets me is the pressure. Everyone argues that Christmas is meant to be a time of peace, of celebrating family and sharing gifts of love and appreciation. Yet the moment you step outside into the material world, the weight of consumerism tromps on any joyful noise. Secret Santa’s, gift exchanges, presents for in-laws, cousins, friends of friends… the pressure to appease all of their superficial desires is dumped onto us by the endless stream of ads, posters, and commercials. If we don’t get them the perfect gift, we might as well forget about ever speaking to them again. Retail places massive expectations the giver of gifts, and it’s unbearable.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t buy loving gifts for each other. I’m not saying that Christmas music isn’t fun to listen to. But what isn’t fun is how commercialized Christmas has become. What’s not fun is how stressful the ‘holidays’ have become. What’s not fun is the headaches you get from the months of swirling lights, and clanging bells. Let’s just cancel all these pre-Christmastime extremities and take it down a few notches. I’d rather slip into the relaxation of family and fireplaces before I slip into the aggressive seduction of Christmas consumerism.
Caitlin Bouwma looks at the world through her own set of binoculars. You'll often find her walking around with a camera or her pen and paper. Optimistic yet opinionated, she’s got a thing or two to say about the activities of her generation and those like it.