Monday, November 28, 2011

Putting the X back into Xmas

( #Cybermonday, #Xmas)


Black Friday is over. The masses turned out in record numbers to snag cheap, off-brand televisions, video games, and whatever the new Tickle Me Elmo is for this year. People crammed into stores on Thursday night and of course, there were incidents. It is easy to jump all over a few people acting like animals, because even though we all want deals, we don't want to be this:



These events eventually lead to the discussion of how bad consumerism is and how the CHRIST should be put back into CHRISTmas (I cannot count how many times I have seen this on facebook in the last three days). The history lesson that I am about to break out (again) is not going for a whole “anti-Christianity” soap box moment, I am just trying to make you feel better about buying that flat panel. If there was a Jesus, most scholars (even Christian ones) do not think he was born in December. So if Jesus’ birthday is not on December 25th, then what are we celebrating?

The easy answer is: whatever the hell you want.

Many cultures throughout history had year-end festivals. Most were focused on the winter solstice and the fact that the days would be longer and brighter again. In fact, most historians believe that the Romans, while accepting Christianity, grafted their pagan celebrations and stories into Christian constructs to help ease the assimilation.

Looking at modern times and with our current shitty economy in mind, the whole “black friday” craze is a corrective market action to ensure (mostly retail) stores and business would become profitable for the year. I came across an article a few weeks ago (that I cannot find) that reported most retailers would not like to go to such extreme measures at year end to bring in customers, but consumers are conditioned to shop at the last minute. This is a “chicken and the egg” conversation, but the bottom line is that people are conditioned to shop during Black Friday and the last few weeks of the year; as a result, the stores save some of their best deals until that time.

I am by no means advocating overly-materialistic lifestyle, but I can say with no doubt that people like to get together at the end of the year and give each other gifts and have nice meals. If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa... it does not matter. All of these “holidays” were pumped up and over promoted for the last 100 years because retailers want you in the stores buying stuff. Knowing all this, I say don’t fight it.

Leverage the sales, the marketing, the time off from work to spend time with the people you love. If the economy has you in a pinch, don’t stress out about it, talk it out and find a better way to spend the pennies you have doing something memorable (it still puts money into the economy and your credit won’t be going nuclear). I like calling the holiday season Xmas because “X” in math is a variable that stands for anything you need it to. For me X = an excuse to have friends and family over for dinner, exchange small gifts, and a nice way to spend a few days off from work.