Holiday spirit has been forgotten

Alex Sanders

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By Alex Sanders
University of Connecticut Daily Campus

STORRS, Conn. – The news is more frequently containing stories about Christmas shoppers getting trampled or a shooting over a Playstation 3. As much as America plays host to Christmas pageants, movies, stories, plays and traditions, it seems that people are truly forgetting the spirit of Christmas.

Families sit around watching “A Christmas Carol” and laughing about Scrooge being greedy, but around Christmas time, many Americans show behavior scarily similar to Ebenezer Scrooge. Christmas has turned into a time of bad traffic jams, long lines and endless spending, so what would people have to be happy about? They should be happy that they have money to spend on presents, friends to buy presents for, a car to get them to the mall and good health to celebrate with their families. Americans are too obsessed with tangible items these days. Of course, a child would rather getup at 6 a.m. to unwrap a new iPod than to simply have breakfast with their family. However, that feeling shouldn’t stay with kids as they grow older. I am still excited about opening presents on Christmas, yet my brother and I now wake up and have coffee with my mom first before diving under the tree and ripping apart boxes.

As people get older, they seem to lose that magical feeling that they got as children around Christmas time. Some people replace that feeling with nostalgia, yet others simply don’t feel anything on Christmas except for stress. Adults stop believing in Santa Claus and start worrying about money for Christmas presents, house cleaning, preparation for parties and the endless lines at stores. I am not saying that I still stay up waiting for Santa to come. I am saying that I still appreciate Christmas and what it means. It will always be a little superficial, but you can make it whatever you want it to be. You can really thank your parents now that you know that all of those expensive gadgets didn’t come from Santa. Also, you can deliver toys to underprivileged children, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or simply spend some time with your family to show that you appreciate them.

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as “Black Friday,” has been one of the wildest Christmas shopping days of the year. It is the only day that there are traffic jams at 3 a.m., businessmen sprinting through Circuit City, and all out battles in Toys ‘R’ Us. Some people set out on Black Friday to get one or two things and end up racking up a $1,000 bill. People also tend to buy things that they don’t even need because the items are so significantly discounted. Fox News 12 in Providence reports that “many said they expected to spend more than $1,000 on gifts … Evelyn Pizzo, 53, of Cranston [R.I.] didn’t even bother drawing up a Christmas budget.” Black Friday is a completely unique experience. It fills shoppers with adrenaline and has the potential to make some people crazy. There have been stories of people fighting over items or pushing people or things out of the way in order to reach their destination. And after all is bought, people go home with smiles the size of their credit card bills. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The retail federation is calling for a solid, if not spectacular, holiday shopping season with 5 percent growth over last year to total $457.4 billion.” People don’t seem to realize that a day like Black Friday is exactly what Christmas isn’t truly about. People initially care more about saving money, but rack up an enormous bill anyways. It’s pointless. If you go shopping on Black Friday, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t kill anybody in the process.

I’m not telling people to skimp out on Christmas presents or just make people cards. But when you do buy presents this year, really make sure that they are special. Don’t get your friend a gift certificate because he is getting you something. Give the people you really care about something special rather than getting a lot of people little things that don’t really mean anything.

It may sound trite to encourage people to be full of spirit and curl up with their family and their dog in front of a toasty fire while singing Christmas carols and drinking cider. But there are ways to make it more fun. Invite a friend over to bake cookies with you and your mom. It may actually be enjoyable. The fact that you are doing that will let your mom see how much you really appreciate her and your family. It’s also a lot less stressful than attempting to plan an extravagant dinner party and buy as many gifts as you can afford before you are in debt. This Christmas, show people that you really care about them instead of fighting with someone over the lowest-priced digital camera that you can find. The holidays always stress people out, but when you feel stressed, try to remember what Christmas is really about. This year, bake cookies, make paper snowflakes and throw as many snowballs as you can. Because before you know it, the magic of Christmas will slip away.

(Alex Sanders is a columnist for the University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus, distributed by U-WIRE)