As the holidays inch closer and closer, many fall victim to the adrenaline rush and chaos of the holiday season. It is hard not to give in to such temptations, given the endless new game consoles, fashion trends, and gifts on wish lists this time of year. Christmas commercials and promotions have been on the air since September and by now, most people, including myself, are sick of it. It seems like the month of December has become more and more centered around commercialism rather than family and friends.
No conversation about shopping during the holidays is complete without mention of the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. The “holiday” known as Black Friday is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and was officially dubbed “Black Friday” in the 1960’s. The term itself comes from the fact that the holiday season is the busiest season for retail and therefore most retailers go from losing money (in the red) to making money (in the black). Since the 60’s, the popularity and extent of the holiday have changed drastically. What used to be a few sales at certain stores that began the morning after Thanksgiving have now become extensive discounts at thousands retailers that in some cases, start on Thanksgiving Night; in the case of K-Mart, sales began at 6:00 am Thanksgiving morning. Retailers have done this because of the reduced amount of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and also due to the ever increasing number of Americans participating in this event. Last year on Black Friday alone, 248 million Americans spent approximately $407 each and contributed 57.4 billion to the nations economy.
The holiday season is certainly a crutch for most retailers, with one fifth of their business coming from the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, despite the popularity of this shopping season, there are many anti Black Friday holiday shopping movements that have arisen recently to combat this social epidemic. Canadian artist Ted Dave and Adbusters magazine have started “Buy Nothing Day” to protest consumerism. Participants protest the holiday shopping season by refusing to shop, cutting up credit cards, and participating in sit-ins at major malls and shopping centers. They contend that Black Friday and holiday shopping draw people away from their families during time that should be used for bonding with loved ones.
While Hills West students are known to enjoy shopping and getting gifts, many voice approval of Buy Nothing Day and other similar movements. “I agree that people are taken away from their families during the holiday season because they need to get gifts.” said Trevor Anton, a sophomore whose mother works in retail during the holiday season. “A lot of people forget that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, not a day of giving and getting presents.” English Teacher Mrs. Benson was also disappointed by society’s view of the holiday season.”Kids always say can I get this or can i get that…happiness comes from within. We have too many material things as it is.” Freshman Paul Curto offered a neutral opinion on the topic, saying “One does not necessarily cancel out the other. We need to find a good balance between gifts and family during the holidays.”
While these protests may seem extreme, they do make a good point. The only people who seem to be “jolly” during the holidays are the corporate mongers that rake in the profits as the average consumer is hypnotized into buying marked down rubbish. Where is the family bonding and friendship that is the supposedly what this time of year is all about? Has “the most wonderful time of the year” simply become an elongated marketing gimmick to coax consumers into buying the newest and most sensational gifts for their nagging friends and families. Is there any hope to revert back to the simpler holiday season portrayed in Hollywood classics such as “A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story, or has America succumb to the plummeting of society towards a consumerist and materialistic nation. It is up to us as consumers, to answer that question.