As Halloween passed, I knew it was coming: the dreaded influx of Christmas commercials and the early talk about Black Friday sales. Rather than delivering the traditional Christmas message of, “love your neighbor,” we’re being barraged with the message, “spend a ton of money and endure the holidays with the rest of us.”
Remember when the Christmas season started right after Thanksgiving? You’re able to enjoy your hearty meal with family and friends, and once Black Friday rolled around, you’d be ready for the Christmas tree, the hokey holiday music and the gifts that come with the holiday season. If the last few years are any indicator, those days are long gone.
In September of this year, I stumbled upon a K-Mart commercial titled, “Not a Christmas Commercial.” Hint: It was definitely a Christmas commercial. That’s right, a Christmas commercial released in September. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t shocked. I feel like Christmas makes an appearance earlier and earlier each year.
While this was my first indicator of the absurdly premature Christmas commercialism, watching the post-Halloween Nov. 2 NFL games was my next. During almost every commercial break, I was reminded that Christmas is on its way, and I’d better get ready to spend.
Stores used to open in the early morning hours on the Friday following Thanksgiving, but those early opening times have slowly crept into Thanksgiving Day. A recent trend, Thanksgiving is now going by a different name: Brown Thursday. Rather than considering this holiday as a time to give thanks and spend time with loved ones, retailers have decided to commercialize it. Nothing like rushing through Thanksgiving dinner to wait in line for hours and tackle others for a discounted 32 inch HDTV.
If Brown Thursday doesn’t illustrate how the United States consumer has been drawn into this incredibly commercialized season, know that Black Friday actually has a death count. As of 2013, there have been seven deaths and 90 injuries on Black Friday. This is probably one of the most pathetic and disappointing figures I’ve ever heard. Deaths over a deal, that’s reasonable. Why are we being hypnotized to focus so much on the material aspect during a time originally meant for giving to others and enjoying their company?
I’ve always liked to think of Christmas as a charming season to spend with family and friends, with warm drinks around a fireplace while wearing corny holiday attire. Now, I’ve joined the company of many others who, as soon as the Christmas season begins, just wants it to be over with. There is an insane pressure from retailers to spend money. It’s incessant.
According to Daily Finance, 57 percent of parents said that they would be willing to go into debt to pay for presents for their children, 36 percent of surveyed Americans said that buying presents for loved ones takes precedence over credit card debt or sticking to a budget and 20 to 40 percent of retailers’ annual sales come from the holiday season.
Not to say that I won’t be spending money this Christmas season, because I will. We shouldn’t refrain from giving gifts, but we also shouldn’t buy into this ridiculous ideal of buying as much as possible and contribute to this idea that we should put material possession above all else. That’s just about the opposite of what Christmas is supposed to be about.
Collegian Columnist Keegan Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keeganmw.