To most of us, the term ‘commercialization’ is a dirty word. It is associated with mindlessly amassing wealth and the picture always conjured in our heads is of a greedy-looking man, holding on to so many gold trinkets while still snarling and grabbing some more.
We are always looking to find ways of making an additional buck. In spite of this, we turn up our noses in disgust each time the topic of the commercialization of Christmas comes up. We see the big corporations as the bad guys, wheedling us into buying items we probably don’t need all with the evil, grand scheme of making us fund a multibillion-dollar Christmas industry. They keep smiling to the bank while we are saddled with junk.
However, if we are truthful, we will find that in one way or the other we are always looking to commercialize stuff too. Don’t we hear financial gurus tell us to find ways of turning our passions into streams of income? I have also said that to people. Yet, we would not describe ourselves as green-eyed monsters that see currency signs everywhere, would we?
The truth is that we are all capitalists, in some way. We are on the lookout for gaps we can take advantage of to make a profit. Some of us are more skilled at this, zeroing in on opportunities that others don’t notice by providing solutions to a widespread need or identifying a need many are not aware of and marketing an item that satisfies it. Are we really going to cast stones at people who have simply excelled at marketing?
Hold on. I can feel the way your eyes are boring holes in my soul, and your mouth has become one hard line of disapproval but read on to see the perspective I am coming from.
For those of us that are conservative or religious, we believe that the true spirit of Christmas has been replaced by an excessively materialistic approach. This is not about whether or not Christmas began as a pagan practice. Religiously speaking, Christmas is associated with peace and love and of course, reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ and all that it stands for. Therefore, I understand where people of this viewpoint are coming from, but there is something else to look at.
The Christmas industry is mostly about gift items, isn’t it? For example, cards are an essential part of Christmas celebrations (though it is gradually phasing due to technology) and that is one business that rakes in millions of dollars annually. Nevertheless, this is consistent with the Christmas spirit that conservatives and religious folks subscribe to. We talk about extending love to all around us, and I think giving gifts is one way to express this love. Therefore, this industry is making a whole lot of money, but it is also providing a means of spreading an emotion we esteem.
If you think I am excusing an indulgence in materialism when there are more worthy values to be upheld, you are wrong. This brings me to what I believe the solution is. We must understand that for those making money off Christmas, it is business as usual so you can’t really criticise them. On what grounds would you do that? Come to think of it, what kind of businessman or businesswoman would you be if you didn’t take advantage of a glaring opportunity?
Anyway, there is something you can do about the prevailing situation.
I think the onus falls on families and religious bodies to keep defining what Christmas is to the young people, so they don’t get swept away by the notions they are being fed by the media and marketing gurus.
If you take a look at some of the Christmas traditions that have raked in lots of money, they were instituted by strategic marketing. For instance, Santa Claus used to be a weird concept, but the mythical being gained widespread acceptance when beverage giant, Coca-Cola embarked on some smart holiday marketing in the 1920s-1930s. Even the idea of Black Friday sales and Christmas trees/wreaths find their roots in marketing.
Thus, these are practices you can’t stop. It is part of human nature to maximise profit, but the family can preserve the sanctity of certain concepts, practices and religious observances. The family is critical in the blueprint for combating numerous excesses we see around the world. If we simply teach our kids what Christmas is really about, they will not be misled by marketing gimmicks. Despite the fact they’ll patronise the Industry, they will understand that gifts are not the only ways to show love or that love cannot indeed be measured by material things. They will also appreciate that even when we spend during the holidays, it ought to be deliberate and in thoughtful ways.
Now, are you still frowning at me in disapproval? Perhaps. Besides, this is only my opinion, and you may have a different one.
We only have to understand that the commercialization of Christmas is not going away anytime soon. It will probably just get worse but then so what? We can do nothing about that, but we can definitely insulate ourselves by holding on to the right values and ensuring that we pass those values on to posterity.
PS: I am probably going to spend on watching a Christmas movie, buying gifts and attending shows. Who cares? I know my values.
Christmas remains about love. Merry Christmas, folks!