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The Vanity of Christmas

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

How is it that Americans celebrate a holiday that’s ostensibly about giving by buying and hoarding gaudy, ugly displays? It’s the same scene every year: all of the stored Christmas decorations are dragged out of the basement at great personal risk and then hours are spent trying to make them work correctly. A set of lights might not work because one is out, or the cords might be tangled. It’s a useless gesture to placate what essentially amounts to a kitschy expression of base consumerism dressed as either a religious festival or a celebration of togetherness.

It’s not hard to tell that I’ve been sour on Christmas for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hypocrite when it comes to Christmas, and I fully recognize that. I do enjoy getting together with family and eating a bunch of food and exchanging store-bought presents. It has its charm. What I find intolerable is the trouble we go through to celebrate it.

Christmas decorations rarely ever look appealing and they contribute, in my family, to roughly 45% of all stress related to this season. I can tell you that, for people that complain about their energy bill all year, my grandparents are always ready to keep Christmas lights on all over the house for over a month straight for many hours. I’ve always found this bemusing.

You can imagine that when I read, from Think Progress, that homelessness in the United States could be ended with the amount of money that American spend on Christmas decorations every year, I get a bit frustrated. Frustrated because decorations of the sort that people throw in their houses or in their front yards are frivolities that don’t have any reasonable connection to the purpose of Christmas.

The data that Think Progress gives also shows that eliminating the capital gains tax cuts could also solve the problem. I think that this shows a terrible order of priorities on the part of Americans. I’d be interested to see what progress we might accomplish with homelessness if we took the money that would otherwise be spent on Christmas decorations and used it to fund programs to end  homelessness.

Doesn’t that seem like it would be a much better use of the money? I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a holiday that is supposed to be, for most Americans, the birth of Jesus Christ.

  1. December 10, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    well said, thanks but the lights and the stress makes it the Most Wonderful Time of the year…I am a Christian Too!!!

  2. December 11, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    When I was a kid I was dazzled by the lights. Now I just think they’re wasting energy. I suppose everyone finds their own things to like about Christmas, but I have to firmly say that decorations and lights are a bunch of meaningless chaff to me.

    I really would like to see some kind of mass movement on homelessness, though. Perhaps some sort of national drive to get people to put some percentage of what they would spend on decorations and presents to that. I mean, I know charities already exist, but how much publicity do they really get? I just got my annual Marine Toys for Tots letter this year and my new membership card. I’d give money right now if I could, but I can’t spare enough to make it worthwhile.

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