By Nora Zacharski ’19
I stood there in shocked silence, not wanting to believe the sad sight in front of me. The Christmas trees twinkled back at me innocently, sharply contrasting the sharp grey of the Costco floor. The date was Oct. 17.
Although many people may grumble under their breath about the absurdity of our society thinking the Christmas season starts the day after Halloween, I actually think that it says a lot about our world today, and that it is a problem that needs to be acknowledged.
In today’s consumerism-obsessed society, it seems that corporations just look at holidays and say, “Okay, how can we turn this into a day where people want to shop?”
Memorial Day and Labor Day are both perfect examples of this. These days are supposed to be about honoring those who have fought for our freedom, and honoring those who have and who continuously work to ensure that our country exists in the current state that it does. Big corporations completely ignore this. Instead, Memorial Day is now all about selling grilling supplies for the first official cookout of the summer, and Labor Day is full of back to school sales.
So that’s how it started. Taking once meaningful holidays and reducing them to nothing more than an excuse to feed our economy. And now it has come to this.
Christmas is, arguably, the most consumeristic based holiday out of the entire year. It’s about getting the best deal, finding that one special item that will make your loved one’s face light up. The rush of joy people get when they see that reaction is exactly what the corporations are feeding on. They have slowly fostered this crazed mentality that if you find that one perfect gift, you will prove your love for this person, you will reach your full potential as a mother/sister/boyfriend/ nephew and all will be right with the world. But it can only be found in stores.
So it makes perfect sense, if you really think about it. The stores seamlessly make the transition from Halloween– which is based on buying huge quantities of candy, decorations and inappropriate costumes– to Christmas, which is about buying gifts, lights, trees, cookies, pictures of screaming children on Santa’s lap and so much more.
The only holiday that is not about buying anything, though, is Thanksgiving. The one day of the year when we are grateful for everything we have.
Yes, we buy a turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, however Thanksgiving offers nothing compared to the mass purchasing of king sized Milky Ways or the 12 boxes of white string lights that immediately break when you get home and have to be replaced.
But the stores have found a way to get around this dilemma as well: Black Friday. The day after we are supposed to be thankful for everything we have, they encourage us to consume more. Retailers are now opening on Thanksgiving so that people can have early access to deals. While I am aware that consumerism is an essential part of our economy, and I myself don’t deny that I love to shop, I think that we really need to reconsider the direction that we are heading in as a country. Because if we can’t stop buying things for just one day and stop to be thankful for what we have, when are we going to? Where does it end?