Christmas is Cancelled

First of all Merry Christmas!  If you haven’t noticed its that time of year all over again.  A time for cookies. The ones that track your purchases and the ones that track your waistline.  O, what a time for giving. Giving out of peer pressure to the indifference of recipients and the glee of creditors, who don’t need it either.  But we grin and bear it. Whether with child or without, we are all thinking the same thing. This is an economic theatre.

“The United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2013.”

Lack and abundance, that is the story of Christmas.  More than 26 million of us will put up a tree, bake cookies, and even open a few presents.  That is where the similarities end. Thousand of dollars spent on plane tickets, contrasted by lonely telephone calls to family across great distances.  Heartfelt family gatherings soothing to the soul, contrasted by broken family ties, medical impedances, and further isolation and loneliness. Glutenous Holiday feasts, contrasted by abject hunger and neglect.  But how could this be? In 2013 “The United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars” Lack and abundance.

“Christmas is typically the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world as sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas.”

We all know who the Grinch is.  A character that long ago became synonymous, a meme even, of being anti-Christmas.  Odd that this secular character has become more well known and arguably stronger than the religious influence of the past. Religion was once the cornerstone of Christmas.  Today, at least in popular culture, it has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with economics and customs. However, when you look at the holiday from an entirely economic and customs point of view, it doesn’t make sense.  Instead of a holiday of buying, why not a holiday for gathering, and just sharing. Sharing what you have, sharing time together. A time void of such powerful economic social pressures. Why should people struggle each year to buy a bunch of things that they can’t afford, and generally don’t need?  If this is our most brilliant idea for creating economic activity ok then. But if not, and I sincerely hope not, can we come up with a more constructive use of all this activity. I mean, we don’t want to just manufacture and ship a bunch of packages around the world just because, now do we? That would be silly. Now that the beautiful religious and reciprocal nature of Christmas has been lost, what is left?  Why are we all still pretending like that “magical time of year” actually still exists? That feeling got stuck in a movie from the 1950s and apparently is still traveling to the year 2018. Just because we fire up the record players and sing songs of yesteryear is not going to bring us back to the future. According to Pew Research, the number of people who said: “religious displays should not be allowed on government property under any circumstances (26%, up from 20% three years ago).”  Shouldn’t we just be able to just opt out at this point? But who would remain? Who would continue to indulge in the most harmful and least satisfying part of Christmas? The Elite. The same group of people who stands to profit from the increase in economic activity that the holidays create. How much did Christmas earn you last year? Of course, many working classes pick up a few extra hours over the holiday season. Only to forfeit what is truly the most precious gift during the season.  Being able to spend a few extra precious moments with their families and the people that you love.

“More than 160 countries celebrate Christmas. A few countries refer to the holiday as Family Day.”

So, lets clear up a few things, because I know I’m all over the place.  Christmas is a GD religious holiday and not just another economic holiday like Halloween.  I don’t owe you anything at Christmas, and that goes for my kids too. We should be able to celebrate Christmas with the people we love, the way that we see fit.  Christmas should be a paid holiday for everyone, and stores should be closed. Not opening at midnight and other ridiculousness. Instead of talking about doing it, maybe we should make sure that others are taken care of at Christmas.  The ones who really need it, the ones that have nothing. Hand a cold homeless person a pair of socks, and see how it makes you feel. It doesn’t compare to the feeling of giving your spoiled broken offspring the newest iPhone. It’s not a coincidence that it cost a fraction of the price, and yields a far higher return.  Or better yet give them the socks off of your feet. Only then can we ever begin to re-understand the meaning and the feeling of Christmas. Merry Christmas!

-A. Carroll   

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