The stress and hype of, what is, the lost holiday season

Talin Maghakian

Don’t look at your Christmas list as a burden, see it as a reminder of all your loved ones,” chimed the voice of a spokeswoman for a well-known department store over the radio.

And so the shameless attempts of capitalists to get your money even during the holiday season endure.

It seems that the true meaning of the holidays has been lost on me as well as the rest of consumer society in the country. As the holiday season approaches every year, I find myself increasingly restless, uneasy and sometimes begin to unexpectedly feel nervous.

The trigger is not one that is clearly defined. Rather, it is what most people do not even notice anymore: The crowds at the shopping mall, the commercials on television and on the radio, and on and on.

However, the nature of that one specific radio commercial mentioned in the beginning continues to irritate me. It simply was not your typical holiday commercial with the happy couple around the Christmas tree as the man slides a bracelet around his lady’s wrist. This commercial addressed the fact that Christmas shopping can be a burden, especially with many people lacking the luxury of infinite time and money. But it attempted to convince you to put all that aside, put forth you credit card and spend because you are supposed to love everyone on that list. It was also at that moment that I realized my holiday anxiety is not something that is exclusive to my personal sentiments. It was being caused by external factors that I had allowed to shape my feelings during this time of year.

For those at the forefront of capitalism at its most extreme, it does not matter what time of the year it is. It may as well be Christmas throughout the whole year. As long as people keep buying into consumerism and consequently consume, the wheels of the machine keep turning and generating money without a glitch. That is probably why most stores, malls and boutiques begin mounting the holiday decorations starting in October.

The anxiety that students may feel about the holidays is usually coupled with the stress of the finals week that usually comes the week right before Christmas. It then usually happens, at least for me, that all the anxiety and stress steadily diminish as the anticipation, preparations and hard work have concluded and you are sitting by the fireplace, sipping tea, opening gifts or whatever it is that people do with their family and friends on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or any other holiday that all somehow fall at the same time also helping marketers widen the scope of their target potential consumers.

It is only at that very moment when the reigning clich? of the true meaning of the holidays can be experienced and not nearly as much when you are shopping for all your loved ones on your gift list, as the radio spokeswoman suggests, or trying to beat the traffic amid dizzying crowds and blinding lights. Do not be fooled by consumerism hype, races to the sales racks and ridiculously long lines. While those are stressful situations, there is no reason to be stressed about the holidays because they are not here until they are actually here and you are living it in the moment without the presence of free radicals to influence your spending habits as well as your perceptions.

You don’t need the woman on the radio telling you to remind yourself of your loved ones during the holidays as you shop and burn plastic at the establishment she represents. There is ample opportunity to contemplate and express love for friends and family when you are actually sitting together around the Christmas tree, lighting the Menorah or having Kwanzaa dinner with them.