Christmas or Giftmas?

Emily Nilsson

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    Christmas was originally a celebration of the birth of Jesus and a time to celebrate family. Nowadays, it seems as though we have lost sight of the real reasons to celebrate, and we instead use it as a time to exchange gifts and material items.

   Christmas seems to have shifted its entire premise over the years. Now, it is all about what presents you get and give and whose is the best. As Americans, we spend immense amounts of money on Christmas gifts and decorations.

    This originally pure celebration has turned into a time full of consumerism and competition. We have lost sight of the origin of this holiday, and we need to regain it.

    The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates (ABC News).

  Christmas is a time to enjoy having family near, and celebrate them (and if religious, the birth of Jesus Christ). We need to be less consumed with buying, buying, buying, and we need to spread joy and be thankful for what we already have. It seems as though people believe the only joy of Christmas comes from material items and gifts, and that is certainly what our consumer culture encourages us to believe.

   Many stores nation-wide benefit immensely throughout the Christmas season. They make very large profits due to the consumerism surrounding the holiday as a whole.

    These holiday sales reflected about 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s total sales that year. As a result, just over 768,000 employees were hired throughout the United States to compensate for the holiday rush (Statista).

    People are shopping so much over the Christmas season that additional workers have to be hired to handle all of the customers. These extreme measures have to be taken in order for the store to make as much of a profit as they do. This could lead to a cycle of employees spending the money they earn on gifts.

    If someone gets a holiday job in order to make more money for buying gifts, it will not be put to more useful things. Additionally, many of the holiday workers are only hired for a short period of time. This means that come the end of the Christmas season, many people will not have the same job they had over the holidays, if they have any job. This could be bad for people who really need work, because job opportunities that seem grand at first, could be gone in a flash, leaving them unemployed, and unprepared.

    Many stores are making about ⅕ of their yearly income (give or take) in about one month. This is an abomination. As Americans, we can put our money to much better use than we are now, spending it on gifts that will most likely be forgotten or broken soon. We need to learn the gift of sharing with those who need it most, which often times isn’t us at all.

    “Experiences create memories,” Lilienfeld said. “Material gifts create junk” (MarketWatch).

    Many people end up throwing away gifts they receive, leading to large amounts of waste. Also, it is a waste of money to buy a gift for someone that they will most likely either regift, give away, or throw away, when instead, you could put that money to much better use.

    There are many ways money can be put to better and more charitable use over the holidays. You can donate to a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen to make those with very little feel a little more comfortable and joyful over the holidays.

    You can also donate a box of little gifts to Operation Christmas Child (A Christian organization through Samaritan’s Purse) which sends shoe boxes full of gifts and necessities for children all over the world to send happiness those who are underprivileged.

    There are so many other ways to donate and spread the joy over the Christmas season by donating, and they have the power to make both you and someone else very happy over the season.

    That being said, it is not horrible to give a few gifts to those you love, but maybe just a portion of what you would have spent on gifts for loved ones could be spread to help those with less than you.

    Christmas can become a holiday based on its origins once again if we all just restrain ourselves from using it as an excuse for consumerism.

 

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