Opinion: Christmas and consumerism cannot go hand-in-hand

By Valeria Mancera-Saavedra, Staff Reporter

The red bows on jewelry boxes, colored lights decorating store mannequins, giant Christmas trees in every corner of the mall—you have to admit, the holidays are a visually attractive time of the year.

Every year we are dragged into partaking in a capitalist society that forces us to look at the Christmas season as a time to consume rather than to simply celebrate, effectively influencing our financial decisions. This is especially true on days when stores are flooded with people trying to hunt for the best deals.

Somehow it is easy for people to find happiness inside of boxes with shiny wrappings and high-value price tags. But can that truly be referred to as happiness?

When did it become more important to spend time and money on material things rather than invest it in family and friends?  And don’t get me wrong, nearly everyone enjoys receiving gifts.  However, it seems at this time of year people are more attracted to showcases in department stores than what is really important: loved ones.

People like to justify the need to reward the hard work they have done throughout the year and compensate their nearest and dearest for not spending enough time with them for the same reason. But rather than benefiting us, it becomes a vicious cycle year after year—and not a good one.

Not everything has to be superficial for it to be considered a valuable gift.  Many times materialistic goods become nothing more than an unnecessary item that gathers dust. The best gifts are ones you can’t get with a credit card.

During this time of year, we should all  examine and weigh our priorities. Winter break may not be very long, but be sure to take advantage of it and offer time to the people who complement your life.

I am guilty of believing what came inside the box was more important than the intention with which it was given to me.  I am guilty of worrying more about putting together my outfit for Christmas dinner than having made sure to write an “I love you” at the end of a Christmas card.  I am guilty of spending more time in line in front of a cash register than having made a “Merry Christmas” hug last more than five seconds. And no, I’m not proud of it.

To accept not having been the best version of yourself does not entail weakness. On the contrary, it may even be the best gift to yourself this Christmas.

Regardless of why you celebrate Christmas, whether for religion or simply tradition, you must always keep in mind the true essence of the holiday.  Let’s stop altering Christmas from tradition to consumerism, from values to the mundane and remember that quantity is never the same as quality.

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