After nine days of turkey, gravy, the suburbs and people who expect me to tell them when I'll be back at night, I'm back in the Fort, ready to start the holiday season by planning to study for finals and actually playing X-Box.
And, as the Christmas season officially began with the running of the shoppers last Friday, I had a thought: Is it really worth death-by-trampling to get 50 percent off on DVDs?
The day after Thanksgiving has always been a bastion of consumerism, a day when people can just feel good about knocking an elderly woman down before she grabs the last tickle-me Elmo.
There are places in the world where people do not begin the celebration of the birth of a Messiah by storming into Target at 6 a.m. to get a discount on pajamas. (Beyond the consumerism of it all, I can't believe the hours these shoppers keep. I mean, I wouldn't get up at 5 a.m. if Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were mud wrestling on my front lawn.)
CNN recently reported that various anti-consumerism groups were trying to designate last Friday as "buy nothing day." Somehow the image of a toddler with a cap gun challenging the U.S. Marine Corps comes to mind. Rampant consumerism is, for better or worse, an entrenched reality in America. I think these groups should have had a more realistic goal, like, "buy nothing that wasn't cheaply made overseas day." That day could be held at Wal-Mart every day of the year without affecting anyone.
The reality is that, in a capitalist society, our economy is built around people spending money. We can't "buy nothing," or stop spending money altogether. The world we've created doesn't function that way, and who has the energy to revolt against the system anymore? I just wish that people could step back and realize why we have holidays in the first place. Whatever you believe, if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or your own personal non-denominational holiday hullabaloo, there is tremendous value in this time if we allow ourselves to enjoy it.
It's not about getting that shiny new iPod, or seeing how many presents good old Santa-Dad left under the tree this year. Living away from my family for the first time the last few years, I've learned that this time of year is about being with the people you care about, and forgetting about all the garbage which goes on in the world for just a little while, and remembering all the good things we have, and all the great memories we have made together. I'm starting to sound like a Hallmark card here, and that's not what I'm going for. I'm not saying that we shouldn't buy presents or go shopping or anything. I'm just saying that we shouldn't let the holidays be about these things, as much as Target, Best Buy and Kohl's wish they were.
So this Chrismahanukwanzikah, don't let that inevitable holiday stress get you down. Do your friendly neighborhood columnist a favor (and you owe me one for getting Altitude on Comcast), and just use the holidays for their intended purpose: enjoying life with those who make it enjoyable.
Matt Hitt is a senior theatre major. His column runs every other Monday in the Collegian.