I share the idea that the way you feel about Christmas depends primarily on the place in which you live. Previously, I thought everyone celebrated Christmas in the same way my family all did. Growing up in a country where a majority is Catholic, that means going to church, reveling in abundant feasts, singing Christmas songs while marveling at the red ribbons and Christmas lights affixed to lamp posts on the drive home, and most importantly, freely saying “Merry Christmas” to each and every person you encounter. Christmas is made felt by the numerous times people exchange greetings that contain the word “Christmas.”
In the States, people are more reserved in greeting each other “Merry Christmas,” and instead opt for the more politically correct, “Happy Holidays.” Since there is a diversity of faiths, there is less emphasis on the religious aspect of Christmas. It is less an occasion of the birth, and more about the buying of gifts.
Retail clerks embellish their store fronts to lure consumers in, with tinsel that sparkle and wreaths that signify warmth. Discounts, coupons and mailers fill mailboxes and the streets. Some host Santa Claus sightings, while others play 20 different versions of “Jingle Bells.” Everyone is in a festive spirit, and it seems that companies capitalize on the consumers’ spirit of giving and looser wallet.
Many might think that this is the sad consequence of our capitalist, hyperconsumerist world, painting companies as a predator to the unassuming consumer. I don’t think this is entirely true, since I believe there are a lot of smart consumers out there, who make wise purchase decisions even when there is a pressure to spend and keep up, especially when pearl necklaces and cashmere sweaters that ooze status quo look inviting.
You will also notice a lot more beggars on the streets, playing the holiday card– something for the holidays, sir to elicit pity from passersby. Even those who are not exactly homeless but need a couple more dollars plot a spot in busy intersections, with their shiny saxophones and polished violins that costs hundreds of dollars.
This is what Christmas has become in America, and it’s not that bad. If Christmas is about talented individuals sharing their skills to make others smile, instead of displaying an opulent tree inside closed doors,
then this is the Christmas I want to experience. If Christmas is what it takes for retailers to offer better deals and customer service clerks to be merry, I won’t give a second glance to the bright lights on bare trees on Michigan Avenue. If Christmas is less about religion and more about gifts and sharing warmth to others no matter what they believe in, instead of alienating those who don’t believe in the “true meaning” of Christmas, then this is the Christmas I’ve longed to celebrate.
Happy holidays and to all a great night!