When it comes to the holiday season, there are many who may refer to me as a Scrooge. Though I readily express my animosity for the season, I am nothing like Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was a grumpy man who cared nothing for charity and was only concerned with making money.
This does not describe me at all. I am absolutely grumpy towards the holidays, but I care a great deal about helping others and I am not obsessed with making money.
There are a few things I quite enjoy that happen during the holiday season, but for the most part I am rather “bah humbug” about it all. Maybe I am too apathetic and pessimistic to really appreciate the “kindness” and “joy” of the holiday season, but it is all really just annoying.
Particularly the rampant consumerism and corporate greed promoted through it all.
Thanksgiving generally marks the beginning of the holiday season and where my natural bitterness flourishes. It is not a holiday I entirely support, for several reasons.
However, I do enjoy gathering with the parts of my family I see twice a year, and I absolutely love that an entire day is dedicated towards eating until you’re as stuffed as a tofu turkey.
The infamous “Black Friday” is the day after Thanksgiving. Thousands of people around the country stand in long lines for hours of the wee morning to get the best deals on all the consumer products they can get their hands on.
People get trampled, some even to death, because people are so preoccupied with getting new things at low prices.
The next four weeks are full of people neurotically engrossed with buying the best presents for whomever they feel obligated to share Christmas joy.
On the surface, Christmastime is full of happy music, brightly sparkling trees, and all the hot cocoa and candy canes you can eat. Kids sit on Santa’s lap and write lists of what toys they want from Santa and his reindeer.
People give to charity; they feed the homeless, and donate change to people annoyingly ringing bells. They try to act kind during the holidays. They smile at you and wish you a “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”
They play songs that drag on and on (and on and on) about jingling bells and dashing through the snow.
Underneath it all is a sour attitude dominated by consumerism. Over the years, corporate America has fed into our ideals of Christmas and inflated it into a multi-billion dollar holiday designed to make heaps of money.
Almost everything about Christmas is bought and sold. The festive lights, trees, cards, gift wrap, bows, and toys; even the food we increasingly indulge in and the candy used to stuff stockings. Nearly everything people use to express their Christmas cheer is a product created by a company and marketed as the true Christmas spirit.
With production also comes waste. According to recycleworks.org, household waste during the holidays goes up 25 percent, sending an additional one million tons of waste to landfills each week. Trash from gift wrap and shopping bags is four million tons.
As much as we’d like to think that all the wrapping paper is being saved or recycled, I believe those who recycle are in a general minority. Even in “liberal, progressive” Western Washington, I feel like an outcast when I separate the tape and bows from the paper, or at a more obsessive-compulsive level – save the paper.
Even more waste is created through Christmas trees and food. The website also claims that 30 million trees are sent to landfills each year. There are also 28 billion pounds of edible food thrown away.
This year, especially with such a poor economy, I hope more people look to Christmas alternatives. I hope they try harder to reduce waste and not buy into corporate greed.
Personally I am aiming to avoid major stores and buy locally, spend less money, as well as put more love and personality into my gifts. I hope to make more gifts than I buy. I plan to be more practical and cut down drastically on waste.