A Penny for Your Pleasure, a Dollar for Your Smile

Alfred Johnson | Staff Writer

As Christmas gets closer, many of us find ourselves scrambling to get the perfect gift, if not for our family and friends, then for ourselves too. There is an incredible amount of pressure surrounding the search. 

We’re all expected to remember what our loved ones want, but with the lengths we go through, there’s more that we’re sacrificing than we may be thinking about. 

When it comes to gift-giving, we’re taught that, traditionally, we’re supposed to be grateful for what we receive. Regardless of what we receive, someone went out of their way to do this one simple favor. The least we could do is appreciate the effort.

Nowadays, when it comes to gift-giving, we find ourselves looking through more of a materialistic lens, seeing these gifts as a reflection of the value of our relationships.

People become selfish when it’s time for Secret Santa. Some get hurt to the point where they find it offensive if the gift does not reach their expectations, while many, on the other hand, argue that an event like this is not to be taken seriously.

We’re told time after time, movie after movie, show after show, that Christmas is supposed to be about spending time with the ones you love and sharing that positivity and that “Christmas Spirit” to as many people as possible. But with people fighting each other for that perfect gift, it seems that we’ve lost the value of camaraderie.

Once Cyber Monday hits, the fight for the “Perfect Gift” slowly swells into a war for the last box. People race for the checkout button just to find out they’re late to a drop that hasn’t even been open for a full ten seconds. 

The low prices have people scrounging their pockets and checking their bank accounts just to see if they have the last penny to spare on a product. Commercials and advertisements remind us daily that they now have affordable prices for a limited amount of time. 

On Black Friday, there are brawls in stores. People swipe items from kids and possibly even go so far as to steal things. Hundreds of videos of people fighting for products and being trampled as soon as doors open.

All this pain, all of this madness, for temporary joy? 

We do our best not to think about it, but we can’t escape the fact that we’re trapped in the system.

These events contradict the meaning of the holiday. We don’t look inside ourselves enough to notice that the choices we’re making for the ones we love get in the way of the meaning of why we’re doing it.

Consumerism blinds our true intentions, propelling greed to the forefront of our minds. We become more concerned with the value of a gift rather than the value of a relationship.

The farther we go with this behavior, the harder it will be to escape it. Although there will be excuses for our actions, we know deep down that we don’t have to.

The hard part about it is that even though we understand this isn’t how we were taught to celebrate Christmas, we conform because of societal pressures. The mere thought of losing someone close to us because of what we present to them was not sufficient can scar us.

While the happiness of our loved ones is important to us, consider this question: Is all of this worth the risk? 

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