The Irony of the Holiday Season

By Sarah Albert
Volume 68, Issue II

Thanksgiving remains to be a holiday largely untouched by the spoiling force of materialism. The day kicks off the festive season, with the morals of giving and community. Part of the sanctity of the holiday lies in that there is no expected exchange of gifts or purchasing of decorations. The holiday is an opportunity for gratitude and a familial gathering centered around a meal. Though the origins of the holiday in its celebration of white colonialism are a bit fuzzy, it is indisputable that Thanksgiving has become a day central to the American holiday spirit.

It is thus incredibly ironic that on the next day, millions of people line up and claw their way through stores making excessive purchases. Black Friday itself has become a national holiday, completely undermining the true meaning of the day prior and of the rest of the season. Stores rely on sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday to keep their companies a oat. Some companies have even named the week following the holiday of sharing as “Cyber week,” advertising incredible deals on items ranging from electronics to clothing and to toys. Although the root of such materialistic spending patterns may lie in the desire to purchase gifts for loved ones and spread holiday cheer, it is evident that this determination has gone a bit too far. Whether it is people getting trampled at Walmart, or women screaming at one another over a mere Cabbage Patch Doll, this day has come to a herald for the beginning of a season consumed by commercialism that contradicts its original purpose.

Scott Edwards’s “Holiday Stress and the Brain,” published by Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, references a study conducted by Healthline, a consumer health information site. According to the survey, 62% of respondents indicated that during the holiday season their levels of stress were, “very or somewhat” heightened. Moreover, only 10% reported no stress throughout the season. Stress brought on by the obligations brought on the season, is defeats the notions of a time of peace and celebration.

The holidays are still of course a time of giving and spreading joy with loved ones, yet it is important not let that get to you when scouring through Target in search of a Last Jedi lego set for your cousin or hunting down the latest Topshop black sequin dress for that New Year’s party. The holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to shop and obsess, but rather to relax and enjoy the closing of the year with what means most to you. We must keep the special meaning of the season alive, and not let commercialism destroy what should be a beautiful and peaceful time of year.

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