Magic of Christmas is about more than getting gifts


Illustration by Alex Torres

Jovana Espinoza, Opinion Writer

The semester is coming to a close, and the holidays are just around the corner. Although Christmas makes the top of my list of favorite holidays, just like most people, I do have a problem with the holiday. The meaning of Christmas has deviated from its true essence, and now it is another commercialized holiday that perpetuates a materialistic attitude.

With Christmas being so deeply rooted in Christianity, not everybody in the United States celebrates it, and certain religions don’t even recognize it as a holiday. But it seems like even Christians who did celebrate it due to its connection to their religion have lost sight of its essence. According to the Pew Research Center, “46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday. . . with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend.”

Now, when people think of the December holidays, plastic trees with blinding lights and ornaments standing over a sea of presents is the visual that comes to mind. This is not people’s fault for associating the holidays with presents and money, but rather it is the advertisements and commercialization that has led people to think this way.

“I love spending time with my family, but to some people, it’s all about the presents. It seems like this time of the year is the time to spend money. I mean, as soon as Halloween is over, Christmas decorations are already up,” Fredy Padilla, 24, a math major said.

Many students can see that the holiday is materialistic, but this can also be felt, especially if the Christmas spirit is noticeably different in other countries.

“Christmas is not just about family, because friends can be your family, and it’s about having a good time with them. But we tend to overlook this, and it revolves around gifts. In Mexico it was food and game-oriented,” Mercy Romero, 19, a liberal studies major, said.

Some people may argue that this materialistic outlook on the holidays is mostly attributed to children who are simply excited about receiving presents. Children are known to go through a “me” phase where instant gratification is what they seek. Because this is such a natural stage in life, it is often overlooked how the holidays can enhance and perpetuate this behavior.

As personal finance author Trent Hamm writes in his article “Entitled Children, Christmas, and the Materialism Battle,” “I see children beginning to assign happiness to consumer goods – and that worries me. I convinced myself that my happiness was directly connected to what material items I had. I’d buy things and barely use them because of the rush of owning that product, and I’d quickly buy into marketing plans of all kinds. In some ways, I still do.”

“When I think of Christmas, it’s a time to get together with my family and open gifts, but people do get caught up with what they are going to get,” Paulette Zavala, 22, liberal studies major, said.

Clearly, this association of gifts with happiness does not remain in our childhood, and it can be seen in individuals of all ages.

Now that we are conscious of what this holiday has become, perhaps this year can be different. Not focusing so much on what we want others to give us and value the time we share with our loved ones is a great first step towards giving Christmas back its meaning.