The business behind Christmas

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With the holiday season upon us once again, festive morale is at an all time high. Children are eagerly composing their lists for Santa and lulling off with the sweet thought of waking up on Christmas morning to find their wishes granted and the sparkle in their eye resembles that of the new fallen snow.

Parents are busy searching for that special something to put a smile on their childrens face. The welcoming smell of pine trees, cookies and peppermint wafts through the air as one goes about their daily activities and families huddle around the fire, sipping their hot chocolate and reminiscing tales of holidays past.

While these may be telltales signs of this glorious season, not all of its associations are quite as “holly jolly.” Malls crowd with overwhelmed shoppers struggling to find those last minute gifts. Airports turn into hotels as they try to house the unfortunate guests whose planes were delayed. Sleep deprived employees are forced to work hours on end to meet seasons rushes, and what was once the season of giving has quickly become the season of “getting.”

Though the holidays were intended to be a time of togetherness, most people opt for the more commercialized meaning and focus on breaking the bank buying countless presents. This leads to some heavy debt following the holiday festivities.

In a Money Advice Service’s 2013 Christmas spending survey, it was found that 18 million people say they are worried about how they will afford Christmas this year and one in 10 adults were still paying off Christmas 2012 in November 2013.

Let’s face it, satisfying our wish lists is no easy task. Back in the day, children’s Christmas lists were filled with hopes of wooden dolls or choo-choo trains; but times have changed and so have the gift expectations. Nowadays, children expect Santa to be handcrafting them iPods and gaming systems, and their lists grow longer with each passing year. This is partially due to the evolution of our society, but the influence of business and advertising is also to blame.

In the eyes of the public, the holidays may seem genuine and family oriented, but to big businesses, the holidays are looked at as nothing more than a mere money-making opportunity.

Because of the famous gift-giving traditions around this time of year,  businesses are able utilize the holiday rush to draw in customers. Most do this by offering “crazy” money saving deals and advertising it as much as humanly possible.

With Christmas now being seen as an economic stimulus for lagging economies, many stores are beginning  to sell “Christmas items” as early as October.

It’s a sad reality that one can hear Christmas carols humming in the background before Halloween candy has even been taken off the shelves and that Thanksgiving is paid little mind to, becoming nothing more than a placeholder until Christmas Eve.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known as the traditional first day of Christmas shopping, through November has not yet drawn to a close.

“Hallmark holidays,” such as typical gift giving holidays, are the ones that are glorified the most. Why might that be? Because we are a country based on consumption.

Not only this, but many people view the holidays as a time to simply take off work. With all the commotion and build up to the season, it’s expected that people would be looking forward to a little rest and relaxation, but some people even go so far to say that’s all it’s about anymore.

According to a survey conducted by ComRes, 40 percent said Christmas is a good excuse for taking time off and doesn’t really have any meaning today.

Maybe a little self-reflection is all this society needs. Sure, it may not be that simple, but if we all took a moment to appreciate the time spent with family, rather than the money they spent on us, we could help return the holidays to the genuine time they were intended to be.

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