What is the easiest way to make a quick buck? Open your doors at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, slap a Black Friday sticker on it and call it a ridiculous sale. I am sure at least one person is willing to pepper spray their way through a crowd to get some $1.99 DVDs.
While I love a bargain as much as the next person and consider myself quite the tech nerd, I am constantly, subconsciously at least, besmirching the economic practices of Black Friday. Yes, I admit that I nearly fell for the $199 HDTV from Best Buy this year. I was almost crazy enough to go get it. But when I saw people on TV camping out for over a week, I had one of those profound awakenings – our economic ambitions and materialist ideals are only commercializing the holidays. Whatever happened to Christmas being the season of giving? Whatever happened to the season of perpetual hope? All I have seen is people perpetually hoping to pummel the next person in line in order to grab an Xbox 360 for a fraction of the usual cost.
Outside of Fayetteville, N.C., someone fired gunshots at a Wal-Mart on Black Friday. A mother pepper sprayed consumers, some of them children with their mothers or fathers, at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart, causing widespread pandemonium. Is this Christmas? I would certainly hope not, because if it were, I am pretty sure we would all be getting coal in our stockings.
I grew up celebrating Christmas. As a Catholic, I was raised to understand what Christmas is really about. But as I got older, I noticed more people celebrating the holiday for one thing – gifts. And not just a few gifts – hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth of gifts every Christmas. When I asked them if they knew what Christmas was really about, they said it was about getting presents. Talk about commercialization!
We spend so much time every Christmas season needing to get the best gifts. We need the newest technology with the highest price tag. We spend the Christmas season shopping, and not enough reflecting on what it is really about. Americans are consumers by nature. After 9/11, President Bush told Americans to shop. On the day before Thanksgiving, the president of Best Buy told Americans to shop. Doors opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving or midnight on Friday, tearing employees and shoppers away from families because they needed to get on line. That isn’t a holiday. It’s a warzone.
I can beg and plead all I want for the world to stop commercializing Christmas, but it will never happen. It will never happen for the same reason that cigarettes or alcohol will never be made illegal – money. We can make a quick buck from it, no problem. It doesn’t matter if it detracts from the true meaning of the holiday. At least you got the new iPad!
Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and listen to Linus. Watch “A Christmas Carol” and think about why Scrooge is allowed to live. Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and think about George Bailey. Last time I checked, none of them were concerned with buying anyone everything they could get their hands on. They were touched by the spirit of the season. Charlie Brown saw that Christmas wasn’t about presents or commercialization – it was about Christ and the spirit of giving. Scrooge saw the error in his selfish ways, and he understood the changes he could make if he just gave instead of taking. George Bailey realized that his family and friends mattered most, and that everything in life happens for a reason, even if we don’t like it at first.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, so let’s stop pepper spraying crowds and firing guns and enjoy the reason for the season.
Samantha Desmond is a senior public relations major from Vernon, N.J. She can be reached at email@example.com.