Singing the Christmas Blues: Why the Holidays are Filled with a Little Less Spirit

No matter what you may celebrate, the holiday season is arguably the most magical part of the year. Whether children are waiting for Santa to climb down their chimneys, or families are lighting the Menorah, there is just something in the air that makes everything a little more special. For some, it’s because families come together to spend time with one another. For others, it’s because of the food and the parties and the exchanging of presents. For college students, it’s time to enjoy being back in their own homes for a whole month.

As amazing as the holiday season is, and as much joy as it brings to people, I couldn’t help but notice that the holiday season does seem a little … different nowadays. For some reason, the spirit that was around when I was younger, and even just a few years back, just doesn’t seem to be the way it used too. Perhaps it’s because everything is so commercialized? Perhaps it’s because Christmas music comes on a month before December even begins? (Even though I’m not complaining about this.)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the holidays really are special thanks to friends and family. It isn’t so much about getting “stuff” anymore, Christmas lists get shorter every year because you either have everything you need, or the things you want can’t be bought in a store. At this point in my life, fuzzy socks are the most anticipated present on my Christmas wish list, and I’m happy about that.

Of course, I’m not asking for toys and games, but I feel like that is all that is blaring on my TV screen. Get the hottest new game for this! Get the coolest new toy for that! Is that really what Christmas is all about now? What store can out do another, and how much money people can spend?

I think the communalization of the holidays all starts with Black Friday. On Thanksgiving afternoon, people are sitting around tables with their families and a few hours later they are fighting in line over a TV that is five dollars cheaper than it was the day before. Seems a little wrong, right?

Leila Ali, a senior sociology major, said, “For me, Christmas and the holiday spirit are about love and happiness found in the presence of friends and family. Today, though, people seem to be finding more love and happiness from material things because the holiday season has become so commercialized and just one big business.”

Ali continued, “It’s not what it used to be anymore, people have lost sight of the true meaning of this time of year. It’s not about Black Friday shopping and gifts. You can’t find Christmas in a store. What it is really all about is taking a step back from everyday life to look around and say, “Wow, I have everything I need.”

Alexa Massari, a junior English and education major, agreed. “I feel like it is as if you have to come up with good gifts for people, or no one will appreciate them or have any Christmas spirit. It always bothered me that material things define a time of religion and family.”

Another thing I have noticed, though it may be silly, is how many people stopped putting up Christmas lights. Of course, this doesn’t have anything to do with the holidays, it’s just all for show. But as a little kid, Christmas lights being put up outside was a huge part of the holiday season for me.

My parents would drive my brothers and me around, looking at houses decorated from top to bottom in hundreds of twinkling blubs. It always made the holidays so much more beautiful and special for me. Now, whenever I drive around school towns or even at home up North, I’m usually driving through dark streets. It is more than upsetting.

Doctor Brian Merry, a lecturer history professor, said, “The holiday spirit only changes if people let it. The excessive commercials and sales have made the season more of a consumer event, but the holidays are still a time for family and celebration for me. And I do enjoy buying meaningful gifts that reflect my relationship with people.”

Merry continued, “Even though the TV specials and radio songs are overplayed, I still enjoy them…in moderation.  So I choose not to be a Scrooge I guess, despite the tendency of our culture to commercialize the holiday.”

In more reasons than one, the holiday season just isn’t what it used to be. People seem to value family time less and buying things more. Perhaps it is because I’m older and I see how the real world works. Every year though, I wish more and more that I was still the little girl who would make sure the fire was completely out so Santa didn’t get burned, and then go to sleep extra early, awaiting his arrival.

As magical as the holidays still are to me, everyone around me seems less and less interested. I can only hope that one day, people start to come around again and realize their priorities when it comes to the holiday season. The holidays really aren’t about who has the most presents, in the end, “stuff” doesn’t’ matter that much anyway.

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