Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are now entering the chaotic end of days or as they are officially recognized “The Holidays.” My head continues to reel from the subsequent excitement and anticipation of leading up to my favorite holiday of Halloween that only lasted for a single day and night. The same thing occurred with Thanksgiving and now Christmas in being treated in the same manner. I think Dr Cornel said it best in terms of commercialism:“We have a market-driven society so obsessed with buying and selling and obsessed with power and pleasure and property, it doesn't leave a whole lot of time for non-market values and non-market activity so that love and trust and justice, concern for the poor, that's being pushed to the margins, and you can see it.”
The Holiday Trinity usually begins with Christmas being on the forefront. During the month of October, chain department and drugstores will sport feeble, varicolored display lights next to plastic Santas in corners. Next to the Santa and blinking lights are cheap candy boxes with half-working laughing witches and mummies who bellow out ominous Halloween greetings. Two stores that I go to often are CVS and Walgreens and these haphazardly placed items are the norm. I stroll past them, ignoring the deals and discounts that offer promises of saving a buck or two.
I think the idea of the commercialism in holidays really hit me when I was in my mid-to-late teens. I remember feeling indescribable joy with the approach of Halloween with the high dwindling down around Thanksgiving and resuming when December began. The Trinity presented itself as a rollercoaster between overpriced, poor quality costuming in October, careless gratitude in November, and hectic overspending in December. As a kid, I was eager for the best costume, the tastiest turkey, and the most presents. It did not matter to me what I received as long as I got in in abundance.
Like many American children who came from privileged backgrounds, I was raised with the expectation that the more possessions I had, the happier I would be. While I grew older, I began to see a patterning of urgency that accompanied the holidays that I was enamored with. Halloween was rushed and I was barely out of my costume when November arrived. November taught me the polite lies of Indians saving pilgrims from starvation (when in the truth behind the holiday is completely different).
It’s not ironic to me that the appropriately named “Black Friday” would host a series of sales of which eager, cut-throat shoppers would willingly trample others just to get to that toy their kid wanted when the day before, gluttony and family tensions were at their peak. Black Friday leads into a holiday where the biblical account of a virgin birthing a special boy allows companies and corporations to flourish. I no longer consider December 25th as Christmas. Instead, I call it Capitalmas because the Christmas season is exactly that – profits and marketing.
I want my holidays to be month-long events and not wrap up after the day of arrival. I want to be able to relax and not cringe when I see my loved ones stressing over what to get one another. I want the obligatory spending behind the Holiday Trinity and others to be the last thing on people’s minds. I want to see people remembering the significance behind their holidays and maintain their cheer even when things go awry. I don’t want you to get me that iPod because it’s on sale. I would much prefer your company over a cup of coffee while your quirks make me laugh. I want you to enjoy this holiday and honor the people who make it special for you. I want capitalism to stop dictating our happiness and enjoyment over the seasons. I want the expediency and expectations to stop because we are much better than that. I want Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hannukah, and Merry Christmas to cease being a single word.