In case you haven’t noticed, the Holiday season is in full swing. Everywhere we go the sights and sounds bombard us, imploring us to stay in a festive mood and buy our loved ones that certain something that will make this the Holiday season to remember. Commercial after commercial, the tv, radio and internet, they all show us that the deal of the century is at our fingertips – all we have to do is buy it.
After we have finished spending money we can’t really afford to spend, we are convinced we should spend “time” with our loved ones, regardless of where they live. We see people on tv, loading into planes and cars to make these trips with their families to visit loved ones who greet them ever so warmly when they arrive at their destination.
The idea behind all these ads is that we are supposed to have limitless money and time, which will allow us to have the perfect Holiday season. Do you know a single person who fits that description? Most people are extra stressed out during the Holiday season. We are busy working extra hours, trying to squeeze every last dollar we can out of our jobs in the hopes of paying our bills and buying gifts without falling into so much debt that we face the possibility of being homeless in the new year.
After we have worked ourselves to the point of being utterly exhausted by the time Christmas comes, many of us are denied vacation because our workplaces don’t hire enough workers to grant people extended vacation time. This means that most of us will only get a few days off, at most, and then we are back to the grind. No wonder many of us feel depressed during the holidays.
We are also told that to combat our sense of depression we can lend out a helping hand at foodbanks or homeless shelters. And many do. But just like the new year will bring more of the same for us, the people we help at food banks and homeless shelters will still need more help than we can give them after the Holiday season. The idea is we should feel thankful we aren’t as bad off as the people we help – well, at least not yet.
During all of this, the very companies who are spending millions convincing us to buy our way to a better Holiday are making billions off of us. By selling us their stuff, paying us low wages, denying us vacation time, not hiring more workers, and by laying off millions of people and pushing more work on those who remain – profits for businesses were the largest ever recorded this past quarter.
Added on top of this, the federal government recently gave working people two surprise holiday gifts. The first is that unemployment benefits for over two million people will expire this week. That means that millions of people will go from relying on the meager money they receive from their unemployment benefits to literally having nothing. We are now told that for the unemployment benefits to be extended, tax cuts to the richest people must also be extended. Give poor, working families barely enough money to survive on and give the wealthy who exploit us millions in tax cuts. Are they going to put coal in our stockings too?
For working people the Holiday season is stolen from us every year and this year will be the same, if not worse. While the rich get their tax breaks and huge end-of-the-year bonuses, we will continue to live and work under mounting debt and unemployment. We are sold the idea of a Holiday season that is unattainable, not because we are greedy or lazy, but because the system won’t allow us to have extra money or time off. Our gift is supposed to be working our jobs, paying our bills and never having a moment free to actually enjoy our friends and families.
This Holiday season can be different. We don’t have to spend all our time and money to make this a great time of year. We can choose to spend no money on gifts, go to a park or museum rather than go shopping or just spend time with family and friends. The truth is we can make this Holiday season a wonderful time of year simply by ignoring the Holiday corporate campaign.