Christmas morning. A child’s stomach flips with excitement as they eagerly wait for the clock to turn seven, as only then will the anticipation end and they are allowed to wake their parents and open presents. They bolt downstairs, running their hands along glossy wrapping paper, trying to guess what is in the large box. For those who celebrate Christmas, Dec. 25 is one of the most memorable moments of a child’s life. However, the way Americans celebrate the holiday season creates an expectation for extravagance, leading children to go through life searching for decadence. Love gets associated with materialistic objects and children may live life with a fundamental misunderstanding of what the holiday season is about, or at least, what it should be about: love, whether that be channeled through family, friends or faith.
Now, one must understand that this is by design. It is not an accident that everywhere one looks from late October through the end of December is an invitation to spend. During this time, every billboard is covered in holiday-themed, consumeristic cheer is widespread, every magazine is making known the newest products, and every other email is a coupon for 50 percent off an online store.
During the holidays, there are ample opportunities for Americans to spend. Black Friday is a staple in American culture. One could argue it is reminiscent of the era of “Manifest Destiny;” Americans are always wanting, always expanding, always progressing. They traveled West to get more land, but completely sucked up the resources and left it barren in its wake. This same idea applies to current America. become a representation of what America is about: unadulterated spending.
California’s ports are a great example of consumer’s effects on the supply chain and how ruthless and rampant spending is during this season. RIght now, there is shipping congestion on California’s coast, and the holiday season is only making it worse. Packages are taking much longer than normal to arrive. However, the amount of spending has continued to rise.
The pathos that companies use to appeal to certain audiences is blatant manipulation, and they are only getting smarter. In the 1920s, coffee commercials played to the needs of a house wife by making her feel that her family’s well-being is dependent on how high-quality her coffee is. In the 2020’s companies utilize technology to cultivate targeted advertisements on social media platforms.
This constant consumerism adds to the massive amount of waste in landfills, as most of these gifts do not last long within the households that are buying them. The solution? Self awareness is an incredibly powerful tool. As adverse environmental effects from mass consumption are becoming more well known to the general population, Americans can make more conscious choices regarding where they put their dollar.
Knowing the impact one makes during this season is a hard pill to swallow, but it is a necessary evil to get the most authentic joy possible during this holiday season.