Christmas showdown

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Christmas. I bet some people are criticizing me right now for writing about it before we have even celebrated Thanksgiving. Well, I’m sorry, but if I am being totally honest, I already decorated my apartment for Christmas.

I have done a lot of thinking, trying to figure out exactly why I become twice as cheerful when the holiday season comes around. Last December, I watched more than 30 Christmas movies on Netflix. Not just the classics, but also the cheesy ones that appear on ABC Family. I don’t know what it is, but even though the acting is mediocre and the love stories are cliché, I still love them. And no, it isn’t because I believe “the one” is going to magically appear on my doorstep on Christmas Eve with some mistletoe, and we will live happily ever after. (I mean if it happens though, I won’t be mad.)

The reason Christmas is wonderful is because it gives everyone the gift of believing. When I was a kid, I would leave Santa some of my best-decorated cookies and a glass of milk. As time went on, I learned that there were no reindeer on our roof and my best-decorated cookies were not Santa’s favorite.

I even remember my dad telling me while I was decorating them, “Maybe Santa doesn’t like that much icing and sprinkles.”

“No dad,” I said. “Santa loves icing and sprinkles!” It makes sense now why he was so adamant about easing up on the toppings. But he still ate them, because seeing us kids believe in something was important and entertaining.

That’s what it’s all about. It’s about believing in something. It’s about believing in anything. As I got older, I no longer believed in Santa, but Christmas began to mean something more. It became the time of year my big sister came home from college. Now it is the time I get to go home from college. Seeing my family together during the holidays makes me believe.

We tend to be negative and expect the worse these days. But when the holidays come, we believe again.

Two years ago, I was dealing with depression. I had been getting better, and over Christmas break, it finally clicked. My brothers were reading the directions to a new game, my dad was drinking his coffee by the fireplace watching them struggle, and my mom, sister and I were standing in our tiny kitchen preparing brunch. My sister was four months pregnant at the time. And there it was, a scene to my very own ABC Family movie. I never really told them, but it was then that I started believing in myself. It took some time to be myself again, but I had finally begun to fight for it. That Christmas, my family saved me.

I believed in myself the same way I believed in Santa all those years ago. It was my own Christmas miracle, and maybe that is why I love the holiday so much.

The holiday season brings out the best in people. We become believers, and there is no better gift. Christmas is not too hyped up because it is not Christmas that is being hyped, but what Christmas brings. People are excited and happy to spend time with family, and I don’t think that should be played down. I am extremely excited waiting for Christmas and am going to watch another 30 movies this December.

Some people may say I am insane, but I believe there are people just as excited as I am. Who knows, they just might show up on my doorstep Christmas Eve with some mistletoe. Believing is a great thing.

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Is Christmas the most wonderful time of the year? That’s what all of the songs and commercials will tell you. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, and often as early as the day after Halloween, the radio stations abandon the modern music to play the nostalgic Christmas classics of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

The stores hang up the tinsel and lights to put you in the buying mood, and the air vents are pumped with cinnamon and adrenaline to hype the mob of shoppers trying to get the perfect gift for their little darling children.

Capitalism has embraced Christmas with open arms. Companies, whose sole goal is to make money, use our perceptions of what Christmas should be for their own financial gain.

We will spend egregious amounts of money to fulfill our mental picture of the happy family sitting around the fireplace all smiling with their gifts clutched in their hands. Companies want consumers to buy everything, from the tree to the tinsel and the logs for the fire.

That is just the nature of capitalism. It doesn’t mean that it’s evil, it just means that motives and ideas you may believe to be your own, may have originated with you. It seems that some of our long-standing family traditions may have been started by a marketing agent for a company in the 1950s.

The Christmas you imagine is dead. Well, that is not necessarily true. The Christmas that you imagine hasn’t existed for decades. The artificially built perceptions of what constitutes a traditional family Christmas, though quite pleasant, are mostly idealistic. We want to believe that families are always happy and together for the holidays and that if we could only get that person the one gift that he or she wants, it will make them happy until next Christmas.

The sad truth is that it rarely works. Families are fractured, people are imperfect,and material things can’t ever bring permanent happiness.

Christmas is the season of buying. For years, we have been calling Christmastime the season of giving, but is that really the case? I am not so sure.

According to a report by nrf.com, the main website of the National Retail Foundation, total holiday spending during the 2013-2014 holiday season in the United States alone was estimated at just over $600 billion.

That is more than 80 percent of the entire U.S. defense budget. The entire country of Argentina has a GDP of only $611 billion.

With $600 billion, you could buy all 50 of the most valuable sports teams six times over. Or you could just go out and buy 7,595,417 brand new 2014 Corvettes. Instead, that money is spent giving laptops and iPods to middle class kids. Is it the season of giving or the season of wasting?

The greatest tragedy of all is that for only five percent of the total spending, we could eradicate world hunger for an entire year.

How valuable are the gifts that you actually give? If all Americans just donated five percent of what they normally spend, nobody in the world would have to go without food for an entire year. That would be the Christmas that they talk about in the songs. I won’t deny that I, as much as anyone else, enjoy seeing the people that I love get something that they really want, but couldn’t our money be put to better use? If we truly tried, we could genuinely help bring peace on earth and good will to all men by sacrificing just a little of our joy, to give infinitely more to people in need.

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