Friday, December 24, 2010

Stand up for Commercialization

Is it a coincidence that twice in one week I've been involved in conversations where people said they were so happy with the commercialization of Christmas? Some context here is necessary. Early in the week a woman addressed a meeting I was at. She and her husband and kids had spent the past three Christmases in Costa Rica. I swooned. Outside it was snowing and the temps hadn't risen above 17 degrees for . . . awhile. Anyway she shared that she had begun to miss the commercialization of Christmas. We all laughed. No really, she said. There just wasn't enough "stuff" there to remind her of the season or of home. Then just the other night my friend's son was home from high school abroad. In Norway he said they are more laid back about Christmas. He scanned the room we were in with the lights, the lit candles, the TREE. He said already there are more decorations in this room then you'd find in a whole house in Norway. The tree for instance might have one strand of light and decorations made out of straw.

I understand that Costa Rica and Norway bring their own traditions into play at Christmas. Who doesn't get Scandinavian design--hello, IKEA. And I could take a decorated palm tree right about now.

But I also understood what each of these people meant when they said I missed the commercialization of Christmas. As Americans we "own" it. I write that literally and figuratively--if that is possible. One) we like to own things, ahem the Louisana Purchase, the buying and selling of people. Our history is littered with deals, bargains (see Manhattan Island for wampum), and steals. And 2) as a people we are generally over the top. Not only do we have to have it, but we're also lovin' it. A lot of my international friends find that appealing. Americans are so enthusiastic!

I've been in other countries as the Christmas season was closing in and have to admit the festivities seemed restrained and some of the hilltowns a little dark--maybe a throw back to their medieval past. Oh, they had fried doughnuts and panetonne and versions of Santa Claus and even some drunks. But something was missing.

I think it's because, in atleast some parts of Europe and South/Central America, Christmas is considered a religious occasion, a high holiday. People go to church and then have family time etc. Sort of like Thanksgiving. You travel to grandma's, eat, talk, sit around, watch TV, someone gets drunk and the family fights, and then it's over for another year.

Whereas as much as we decry the commercialization of Christmas and certain people insist on the "reason for the season": Rejoice! Most of us wouldn't want it any other way.

Now excuse me, gotta go; someone is about to put Frosty the Snowman into the DVD player.

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