Black Friday ad nauseam

A mother plays the guitar while her two daught...

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Why do I need to be reminded that Christmas is on its way when I am still planning for Thanksgiving? It seems that every time I flip stations on the radio, I always come across one that has been playing Christmas music since the day after Halloween. Not only that, but the retailers have started putting their jingles on the air, telling me how many shopping days are left. It makes me sick that we have become so materialistic as a society and that no one seems to be bothered by all this commercialism.

The retailers used to wait until after Thanksgiving to gear up, but then Black Friday was created. Now there are even other groups claiming shopping days- like Cyber Monday. This year Saturday has been designated  Small Business Saturday, as a way to support locals rather than big corporations. At least that one, kind of makes sense. And speaking of corporations, now I am seeing ads reminding consumers that layaway options are available. What they don’t do is remind people that this just sinks them further in debt, the very hole they are trying to get out of.

Why do we seem to “need” so many presents under our trees? Even Hanukkah has been roped in to the consumer loop as Jewish children try to keep up with their Christian playmates. I know, because we celebrate both traditions in my house. At first we tried to make Hannukah more like my husband remembered it, with one gift per day including one major present. But we quickly realized that it was more important to recognize the symbolism of the menorah and the traditional foods, latkes and applesauce, than to shower the kids with gifts; especially since they would get more for Christmas less than a week later.

While I am not talking about spoiling the fun of Santa Claus and a pile of presents under the tree, do we really need to place so much value on toys and gadgets? If we could lower our childrens’ expectations and prolong their ability to wait for a birthday or other gift-giving opportunity, perhaps the quality vs. quantity and anticipation of the gifts would be a reward in itself. While giving is a part of Christmas, it is also important to do so within your means, like the Little Drummer Boy. As a child, I was equally happy with a new album or book as I was with a hand-knitted set of mittens- or at least I tried to be since I knew about manners.

I don’t know how to combat this issue as a parent, trying to pass valuable lessons on to my children without making them frustrated that they get less than their friends. As you can see, this has made me very cranky; but it all started because of the Christmas music ad nauseam. It is a vicious cycle. I wish we could return to simpler times when holidays had more meaning, and Christmas music was only sung during its celebration.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan
    Nov 15, 2011 @ 22:17:37

    I voted no opinion on your poll because I love gift giving during the holidays. All of my family and my husband’s family live far away, and the shopping forces us to think of them and be in touch with who they are and what they like. It’s a way to feel close without being physically close.

    On the other hand, in general I dislike shopping, and I really hate that one of my car radio stations has already become all Christmas music all the time. Even if it’s the week of Christmas, I want to hear other things. Liturgically, in the Catholic Church, Christmas music isn’t played until Christmas Eve, and then it is played for several weeks.

    I grew up in a traditional home, and I have a brother who lives in Louisiana and married a native New Orleanian. Christmas season ends and Mardi Gras season begins there on 3 Kings Day, January 6. I really hate it when people take their Christmas decorations down before 3 Kings Day. That day has a celebration of its own in my house.

    I do think the focus of big presents is too much, but I am lucky that my kids go to school with a lot of kids who don’t have a lot, so they don’t feel like their gifts don’t measure up. I’m sure it would be a lot harder to maintain the tradition of a small number of presents in a wealthier community.



    • themiddlegeneration
      Nov 16, 2011 @ 11:12:18

      Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion. I think we all try to do our best to celebrate in a way that is meaningful to us. Sometimes it gets lost in the overwhelming amount of advertising. It a challenge to keep things balanced.



  2. stmarco7
    Nov 16, 2011 @ 01:46:15

    It is hard to see how the meaning of Christmas can be lost through the frenzy of gift buying. I love the tradition of sharing gifts and guess it is about balance. Perhaps this is becoming more possible as your kids are getting older? When they were younger would be hard to explain why Santa brought friends/family so much more! I just wish I could spend every Christmas with my far away family. 😉



    • themiddlegeneration
      Nov 16, 2011 @ 11:19:36

      I am not suggesting we not exchange gifts as much as I think there should be limits. I am trying to get my children involved in helping those less fortunate ones this season. At least that could be a reality check of some value to them.



  3. Carol Lanctot
    Nov 16, 2011 @ 12:58:58

    I am so glad my kids were grown-ups before the greed reached the heights it’s at now. I have no problem exchanging gifts – I love that part, when the gifts are selected with forethought and given with love rather than obligation. I do have a problem with kids needing to have the latest and greatest expensive stuff. Or thinking they need it.



  4. moodychick
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 13:38:11

    I have to admit, I totally spoil my kids at Christmas. But I hope I do a good job of balancing it out. I do an advent for them and it is filled with acts of kindness and giving and family fun. This makes the whole month full of the spirit of Christmas rather than just one day of presents! Corporations really don’t make it easy to forget about all the ‘stuff’ though do they?



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