Christmastime began in earnest on Nov.1, as department store employees organized miniature reindeer figurines into rows, and others, methodically attached fifty percent off clearance stickers to orange and black monster-themed decorative candles.
Critiques of the ever-present holiday arise from every angle, often discussed briefly every winter amid glittering Macy’s and Ford ads on the nightly news.
Evangelicals claim atheists and liberals purposefully use radical conspiracies to remove all spiritual association or participation from the celebration.
Religious minorities and agnostics argue the current existence of Christmas as a federal holiday proves that Christian policy-makers oppress other faiths by not upholding the separation of church and state.
Some elderly scold their youthful relatives in dining rooms throughout the nation for “losing the true meaning” of the holiday, forgetting they received the same condemnation from their own grandparents fifty years earlier.
Halloween decorations still littering lawns and front porches, Christmas is already here, and with it, the same recycled criticisms.
Not discussed amid the aforementioned critiques is that of how this culture of insatiable consumerism impacts those without the means to consume.
Families in the lowest socioeconomic status do not possess the expendable income available to participate in the months-long cultural norm of purchasing presents, attending parties and spending unbridledly to celebrate Christmas.
As the most talked about holiday in Western culture, perhaps those passionately arguing over its purpose, relevance or historical authenticity would benefit more to examine their own behaviors in the context of consumerism and base their ire from that perspective.
Individuals in extreme poverty are not focused on fighting theological or political battles; they do not have that luxury. Instead, sleep is lost agonizing between creating a Christmas meal for their family like all those advertised on television every night, or simply paying rent.
As a society, perhaps we should think critically about the system we are operating within as we argue about its details.
Wealth allows individuals possessing it to cherry-pick their ideological battles.
Those in poverty literally cannot afford to do so; they must instead struggle to simply participate in a holiday others debate academically.
Entering this passionate season, consider the impact consumerism can have on the well-being of, and social feelings toward, those in poverty, and reevaluate your own Christmastime consumption.