How consumerism stole Christmas


Illustration by Cici Fang ’24

Americans like to spend. From a Fourth of July sale at Toyota to promotional events for labor and veterans day, the combination of holidays and spending has been ingrained into the national identity for a long time. Even cultural institutions such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began as an advertisement for the store. So, it is only natural that one of the most important holidays on the Christian calendar would also eventually become a bastion for consumerism. Christmastime is ripe with advertisements, special products, and holiday themed events that are major sellers.

Large scale producers release themed products like Sprite Cranberry and local farms and stores thrive on the selling of Christmas trees and other decorations. Americans will buy Christmas lights in the millions, some on premade figures. Video games will run promotional events, and even as I opened my computer to type this article, Google has changed to Christmas mode, with holiday theming for its search engine. The bottom line is this, Christmas is being used to sell Americans products. These products can range from a cheap piece of plastic that will never be used again, to basic necessities that Americans may use every day.

Where they draw the line and the problems occur is its effects on the holiday itself. During Christmas, there seems to be an intention of focusing on the pleasure of the time. Presents are a focal point. Kids waking their parents early in the morning to open their presents has been a cliche of the American Christmas for a long time. Pleasure is found all over, in these cheap products that we buy or in the superficial one-upmanship in Christmas lighting. However, I challenge anyone here to remember their most cherished Christmas memories, specifically the moments that pop up in your head. They, most likely, are moments of joy or bliss. For me, the time I spent with my grandmother during the season before she passed. Christmas is a season of joy. Pursuing this joy, is in my opinion the point of the season.

However, there is, in a lot of ways, a wall of consumeristic, vain, pleasure in the way to finding this joy. Propagated by many of our own selfish desires, this wall clouds our path to discovering the joy of this season. Instead of inundating ourselves with the materialistic pleasures that all of us, including me, fall into, we should all strive to find joy this season. Share your time with others, do right by other people, and discover the beauty of this season. None of this is beholden to electronics, or toys, or money, but within the connections we form with other people. This season is the most wonderful time of the year, and it gets even better when you learn to live it with joy.