Name: Nanette Buchanan
Title: Holiday Spirit
The holidays are upon us and as we wish “Happy Holidays” to everyone, most are looking forward to the holiday discounts. The “holiday spirit” of today shares little to no connection to the “holiday spirit” of years ago. Listening to elders as they talk of their family times, the cooking, sharing of gifts, donations and celebrations, the holidays consisted of religious and family values. There was little talk of spending or the anxiety of “Black Friday” or internet sales. Church worship, football games, family visits, charitable events, and eating filled the holidays. The commercialized holidays activities and ads have all but taken over the airwaves before and after the “Happy Holiday.”
The spiritual vs. the material during religious holidays and the other holidays are valued as a break from the norm. The anticipation, unless there is a personal connection to the holiday, is about a shopper’s advantage.
As we scan the holidays, there are twelve that most of us observe without question. The year starts with one of the first holidays, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, held in January. In observance of this great man, his birthday is often celebrated as the prelude to Black History Month. In schools and homes, the reminder of the marches, protests and riots is reiterated. It has become redundant, as opposed to the receptive. As history being passed on from the elders that lived during that time or were a part of the cause, our society has been disconnected from the facts and lost interest. President’s Day and Valentine’s Day are observed in February. Both President Washington and Lincoln share a birthday in the month and as such it is noted on one day. Most of the events for this day are politically related and seldom celebrated in anyone’s home despite having a day off from work and school. Valentine’s Day is a symbolization of romance, a day to express love to family and those we hold dear to our hearts. Most couples, dating or married buy gifts and rekindle the spark that started the relationship. Good Friday and Easter are next and though it is a religious holiday, we’ve grown accustom to the Easter Bunny, egg dying, and the egg hunts. Dressing up with new clothes from head to toe and attending church at sunrise is still a part of the tradition. This day the church is packed as it is the Sunday prior with Palm Sunday being observed. A week later the congregation returns to religion as usual without the fanfare. Memorial Day rolls in while grills are wiped down in preparation for the first cook-out. Most pray for good weather, while those connected emotionally to the true meaning visit burial sites or attend events honoring our deceased brethren who fought in our Military.
As the summer begins, Independence Day brings family gatherings, cook-outs, parades and fireworks. Once again we celebrate another historic event. Flags wave and our water downed history leaves most of today’s society oblivious to the true meaning of the holiday. As the weather changes, Veteran’s Day and Election Day make way for the politicians, more parades and final outdoor events. Halloween which was totally for the children has become quite popular for adults to masquerade as well. Costumes, parties, trick or treat candy and decorations have gone from knocking on doors to larger parties and celebrations. Halloween parades are popular, contest for originality and other categories are cause for it to become a well noted event although it is not a recognized day off. Thanksgiving has always been the day for big family gatherings, a day of thanks and secret recipes. Matriarchs of the families head up the large dinner at their homes where everyone feasts for days. Many visit house to house sharing the thanks and blessings they’ve had over the year. Christmas puts the turkey on the table again as gifts and decorations fill the house of families and friends. The exchange of gifts is common, as well as attending church, and charitable fundraisers. The end of the year and the beginning of a new is the ultimate celebration. In church as well as across the world all drop the ball on New Year’s Eve. The anticipation and the countdown is celebrated with carols, promising toasts, resolutions, and all night partying.
During the course of the year, usually two weeks prior and often too soon the commercials begin. Sending subliminal messages, retailers wait for their unsuspecting consumers to forget the original meaning for the holidays. This is an opportunity for an increase in sales as the discounts can’t be overlooked. Prices and discounts are noticeable and any avid shopper can tell you which holiday offers the largest bargain. Money is spent, returns are honored and there are consumers who would rather shop than spend the time with their families, at home or at church. This practice of saving, spending what consumers think is the best deal ever, continues to invade our homes year round, especially during the holidays.
I thought it was shameful that after the pushing, shoving and stampeding reported last year on “Black Friday,” why would anyone flood the stores again this year? There have been minor injuries as well as death during the rush for the big discount. The time has passed when you could shop and enjoy the crowd or the excitement of the children’s visit with Santa. It’s now a rush to chaos and this year “Black Friday” shopping began on Thanksgiving night for a few of the larger stores.
The internet has become the alternative for people like me. Although I can shop freely on my days off without the crowds, I am learning how to shop online. I don’t think I would purchase everything on line, but it sure beats the rush. Most online purchases have the same if not better, discounts.
The holidays and the true meanings of each or the purpose the day was declared a holiday is secondary. Why? Check the crowds that flock to the stores seeking fifty percent off the latest new trend. There are some items that cause that overzealous consumer to camp out in the parking lot of the store overnight. Being first or as close to it, guarantees your purchase. Electronics, designer clothes and shoes, handbags, you name it, someone is waiting to take the discount. When I was young each holiday became a memory and the years to follow became my collection of better times. Families prayed together, shared in gift giving, and gave praise. Church was first on Sunday with a great dinner to follow. Community sharing allowed families that had to give back and those that didn’t to be humble and volunteer to help others. Simple basics and common sense was a part of shopping and price comparison was a part of browsing or window shopping. As we evolved with better products, the educated consumer, and fantastic marketing, we lost our basic values. Most would share a sale before they passed a history or a religious book. We are destined to be shopaholics if we’re collecting coupons, reading the circulars, or simply watching the Home Shopping Network. This year I sat and watched the organized frenzy. Happy Holidays.