The day after Thanksgiving, more commonly known as Black Friday, kicks off the holiday shopping specials in spectacular fashion. Hordes crowd into popular department stores at two in the morning, just searching for those perfect deals.
And I haven’t even mentioned Cyber Monday.
After the day when we give thanks for what we already have, we go out and buy more.
Our culture as a whole overindulges in material goods during the holiday season, and in place of thoughtful trinkets or experiences, too many of us we seek to outdo each other with more and more expensive gifts.
According to CNN, the typical shopper is predicted to spend around $1,250. this holiday season, up 5% from last year. Not only is spending up but research shows Americans have spent on average more money during the holidays each year since the 2008 recession.
Part of overspending is due to pressure we see in the form of cheery Amazon and Target commercials with catchy jingles dancing across our screens and glitzy store windows lit up like Christmas trees.
But too many gifts are superficial. We take pleasure in them, sure, but eventually the excitement goes away. That new sweater will get thrown in the back of the closet, and that addicting video game will be put back on the shelf.
The rise of online shopping has also triggered a greater influx of spending for the past ten years. With its quick accessibility, shopping is easier than ever. All you have to do is click checkout and enter a shipping address.
After all, it’s free shipping with purchases of over $500!
I’m not condemning holiday shopping and gift giving. It is a wonderful way to show appreciation for those you are blessed to have in your life. However, our culture gets too carried away with the notion of spending, and as a result, we forget about the true spirit of the holidays.
Instead of grand gifts, give a small gesture. Instead of asking for the newest iPhone, ask for an experience. Smile. Tell people you appreciate them. Maybe even give a hug. Because though many of us celebrate different holidays during this time, either religiously or secularly, the same common theme runs through this time of the year. Attempting to make people smile through simple acts of goodwill. Now that is giving.