The Coast News Group

Remember there’s a reason for the season

 Retailers the world over have completely corrupted the holidays. As I mindlessly flipped through the channels the other day, I took note of how many Christmas commercials were aired. After nearly a dozen, I gave up. And this was more than one week away from Thanksgiving! 
Maybe they do it every year and I’ve yet to take notice, but it seems retailers are focusing their aggressive efforts earlier than usual. Doesn’t the onslaught typically begin on Black Friday?
In a time when millions are out of work, Americans are still being asked to spend beyond their means. It’s irresponsible in a sense. I appreciate the fact that businesses need to make money, but wouldn’t it be nice if they just backed off a little? Let Christmas be a time of joy and relaxation; a time to forge lifelong memories and traditions. 
As always, consumers have options. This year, the option might be between paying the mortgage or buying more toys; putting food on the table or placing presents under the tree. Many people will find themselves in this situation, and I hope they’re brave enough to scale the whole thing down a notch. 
Isn’t it sad to hear people bemoan the holidays? “It’s overwhelming.” “I can’t afford Christmas this year.” “I can’t wait for the holidays to be over.” “I’m really stressing out over what to buy the kids.” “Why don’t we just have two Thanksgivings?” 
I know the retail market isn’t the sole perpetrator here. Some families just don’t enjoy having to spend time together. But I have a hunch the majority of the unwarranted pressure we feel during Christmas revolves around the act of gift giving.
I’d be a fool to think the profit margin will ever be erased from the holiday season. We all know most retailers post their biggest numbers right about now. And if the retail sector is doing well, then that only serves as an added and much needed boost to the economy. While we as consumers can still make those purchases and support the local business community, it’s far more important to return to the reason we endure all this madness in the first place: each other. Retailers can still have the rest of the year.
I thought of my grandmother’s many stories of being raised by parents who experienced the Great Depression. Every bit counted, and nothing went to waste, even in good times. She’ll often compare those days to the current economy, whether she means to do it or not. It seems people back then were thankful and happy to just have each other, with or without the added pressure of buying gifts. I’d like to see our country return to a time when good company trumped expensive presents.
I am not a devout Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas. Something about the holiday places me in a sentimental mood, and I know many of you experience this as well. You don’t have to believe in Jesus or recognize a higher calling to feel the spirit of the season. Maybe it’s because we all get a few days off work, and finally have an opportunity to catch up with family and friends. Or maybe it’s the food. Whatever the reason, Christmas doesn’t belong to retailers, and we should let them know.  
I remember how excited we were as kids on Christmas day. I was convinced I heard reindeer hooves on the roof, while my dear sister swore she caught a glimpse of Santa. Everything about the day was so exhilarating. But looking back, it wasn’t about the bicycles or toy trucks or football cards. It was all about simple family time, and of course grandma’s legendary cookies. I miss those days.