Commercialism: the Christmas Gift That Keeps on Giving?
There is a word within the word ‘Christmas’, and it is increasingly being removed from the meaning of the holiday. The word is Christ. Christ has indeed been ‘removed’ from Christmas: the end of the year is now encouraged in the name of political correctness to not be a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but instead just a time of general celebration of family and consumerism.
Look at the opulence of the average Christmas gift: do people really remember the original significance of receiving one? (For those who don’t, it’s to commemorate the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that were delivered by the Three Magi to baby Jesus at his cradle. That is often why Christmas gifts are not given until January 6th, which is Three Kings Day, in some countries.) To much of modern culture, Christmas has become a jackpot opportunity to finally snag some goods from your family you were missing in the past year: a new snowboard, the latest iPhone, a Louis Vitton bag. These gifts have no real value when it comes to the meaning of the holiday itself.
But here’s the clincher: is it really bad if we forget the origins of Christmas? Is it possible that the holiday can move away from its Judeo-Christian roots, still be a celebration of something great, and not be a commercialized money-making event?
I am not saying to lose the significance of Christmas as a way to encourage political correctness. On the contrary, I think modern day political correctness often goes too far: there is a difference between respecting someone’s beliefs and being almost histrionic about what you call things. I am saying that, in a society that increasingly isolates its members through technological advances and frenetic lifestyles, simply the act of coming together is a celebration is something in and of itself. My father, for instance, was thrilled when he realized his family would be together for ‘6 whole days.’ When we come together to celebrate this holiday, it won’t be primarily for the religious reasons: it will be for us to spend more of our time together, to learn about ourselves as a family unit, to grow and laugh and make each other angry and do all the things family units are expected to do. The gifts may be opulent, but that is a way of saying that you are appreciated and wanted (as materialistic as that sounds).
What does this mean then, for our upcoming holiday celebrations? It means only little things. It means that you should be aware of where Christmas came from. It means you should be aware of what Christmas is now — and this may be different from my family to your family to the next one. And it means that, in the future, Christmas will continue to evolve in some way: maybe next it will simply be a nationwide family dinner. Or just a massive gifting party. Who knows? Like all family traditions, it will continue to evolve as time goes on.