OPINION: Materialism impedes on family time

There’s a feeling of joy that you get when you give a loved one the perfect gift. As they open it you feel excited that after some research, you went to the store and thoughtfully picked out something you know they’ll really love.

Holiday shopping used to be about showing your closest family and friends how much you care, but consumerism seems to have taken over and shopping lists seem to have expanded to include everyone you’ve ever met. It’s made a thoughtful sentiment of gift giving a stressful impersonal act.

Retail stores earn more than half of their annual revenue from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The average person spent about $423 on Black Friday alone in 2012 according to statisticbrain.com and more than 300 million people shopped either in-store or online.

At the top of many people’s Christmas lists are the hottest consumer products, but…

All I want for Christmas is:

  1.  A new iPhone (but not really):

    While many college students are asking for iPhones this holiday, I would rather have FaceTime in person with my family. Angry birds can’t replace the holiday family jam session and you can’t eat the Instagramphoto of your mom’s home-cooked feast.As technology becomes more innovative each year, society starts to distance themselves from spending time with family in person and relying on text-messaging and video chatting. Caught up in their cellular devices and tablets, many lose out on the true meaning of the holidays, which is re-connecting with loved ones.In Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” he writes that people are becoming more interested in their technology than human interaction and it will only get worse as electronic media advances.

    Karina Gomez, a 19-year-old criminal justice major said, “I feel like its taken over and become more important than spending actual time with your family.”

  2.  Starbucks’ gift card (sort of):Indulging in my favorite chai tea latte is surprisingly not on my to do list this Christmas, but brewing up some quality time with friends definitely is! I plan on wrapping myself in a blanket and fitting in some time on the couch watching “Elf” with friends.  While others may brave the overcrowded malls, I would much rather stay at home and try on a pair of comfy slippers. While store-bought gifts are nice, it’s more important to spend time with friends instead of money.“We buy or help people during the holidays sometimes because we want and sometimes because we have to, but commercialism has changed it drastically  by telling people they “have” to buy things instead of giving from the heart,” Breeana Gomez, a 22-year-old human services major said.
  3.  Designer Clothes (or not):Instead of layering on the latest fashions during the holidays, I plan on giving away some of mine to charity instead. Stores push out the latest trends during the winter months as shoppers frantically try to get the latest clothes in style, but the old clothes are forgotten when someone else  could use them. There are always charitable organizations like Toys for Tots, Goodwill and Salvation Army that gather necessities and toys during the holidays for people that would otherwise go without. Local women’s shelters are always taking donations as well.

No matter what you do or how much you spend in the next couple weeks, make sure your list isn’t missing the most valuable gifts.