Merry Giftmas – why too much of the holiday season might end up ruining it


Thanksgiving is over, and the holiday season has finally arrived, and yet it seems like it has already been here for quite a while.

Just a few short weeks ago in mid-October, I entered a Macy’s in the mall and, lo and behold, there were no ghosts, ghouls or decorative cobwebs for Halloween and no fall leaves or turkeys for Thanksgiving. Instead, I was greeted with the shock of mini Christmas trees atop store shelves and tree ornaments for sale

Many of us have had similar experiences. Whether it’s stores encouraging holiday shopping a bit sooner or Christmas commercials the day after Halloween, there seems to be a trend of the holiday season expanding to earlier dates on our calendars. And while the season may start sooner, we have to ask, is more and more Christmas shopping/Santa writing/gift wrapping/Black Friday madness good for us?

Let’s start with the first holiday that comes by: Halloween. While not really seen as being part of the holiday season, it’s quite a big day for the millions of kids around the country. Its end also signifies the start of looking forward to Thanksgiving, and then after that Christmas time officially begins with Black Friday deals and further festivities until the big day finally arrives.

But it seems to have come the day after Halloween instead of following Turkey Day. Just the morning of Nov. 1, the beginning of a flash flood of red, green and white started with a Mercedes-Benz Christmas commercial, and just got worse the days after. The most shocking, though, was probably when I went trick-or-treating last year (yes, I am 17, don’t judge) and I looked into a house and saw that the family living there had already set up and decorated its tree.

There may be some advantages to an earlier start to the holiday season. You can get Christmas shopping done sooner, spend more time being in the Christmas spirit and eat more Santa-shaped sugar cookies. But what are we losing in exchange for that? Did the whole month of November get swallowed up in a marketing push to buy as many gifts for as many friends and family members as possible? It’s gotten to the point that some stores’ Black Friday deals extended to 8 pm on Thanksgiving night. Employees of these stores had to sacrifice time they could have spent reflecting on blessings and being with loved ones and instead dealt with crowds and madness (if they didn’t get trampled to death by a shopper stampede).

Even though it seems we’ve made an unhealthy obsession with commercialism and getting everything on our shopping lists, some faith in humanity is restored knowing our largest shopping season is spent buying gifts for others.

So this season, it might do some good to remember this anonymous quote: “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.”

It’s true. The only way this chaos can be fixed is if the focus of Christmas and the season of giving goes back towards loving the people the gifts are bought for rather than the things being bought and received themselves.

After all, I have a feeling that the guy Christmas is named after would agree.