Consumerism and the Holidays


“I had four items on my list and got one. This is ridiculous,” said Joe Allen, of Carolina Forest, center, shortly after the 6:00 a.m. opening as he waits to check out at JC Penney on Black Friday morning, November 23, 2012, at Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Brittany Hinkel, Editor/Cartoonist

It’s a well-known fact that retail sales increase during the holiday season. According to an article, 2012 Christmas Holiday Shopping Season Retail Sales, Job, Technology Predictions, written by Barbara Farfan, the National Retail Federation predicts that Holiday shopping season sales will increase 4.1 percent. That would be about a $586 billion increase compared to the 2011 holiday shopping season.

So what is it about the holidays that convinces us to spend even more money? Or rather, where did we develop the idea that the birth of Jesus somehow ignites the tradition to give and receive gifts each year?

Consumerism should play little to no part during any holiday. Though the increase in sales may be beneficial for retailers and manufacturers, the actual ideals behind the holidays have become warped and meaningless.

Christmas, for example, has become based solely on possessions, rather than family and other virtues. This has led to the development of an even more terrifying concept, and what some believe to be a holiday: Black Friday.

Black Friday is a day dedicated only to shopping. On this day, people are willing to race, push, and trample each other just for a lower price. On this day, it seems that all human decency is set aside momentarily so as to not jeopardize the overall goal.

Those working in retail are forced to abandon precious time with their families in order to maintain this horrific tradition.

Now, am I proposing that this should stop entirely? Not necessarily. Consumerism can be somewhat involved in the holidays, but in a less intrusive, claustrophobic manner.

Though the holidays will never be completely restored back to their original state, regular holiday shopping during the month of a holiday, rather than dedicating a specific day for shopping would help to restore some of the order, morals, and family values back to the holiday season.

I think it’s safe to say that, whatever one’s belief is about the concept of Christmas, it has nothing to do with presents and materialism. We should focus more on being thankful for what we have, rather than griping about what we don’t. Try this, and I guarantee you a much happier holiday.