In case you haven’t noticed, the holiday season has already arrived. Everywhere we go we’re now bombarded by sights and sounds that try to convince us to stay in a festive mood and buy our loved ones all the things that will make this the holiday season to remember. Commercial after commercial, on the TV, radio and internet, all reminding us that the deal of the century is at our fingertips – and all we have to do is buy it.
And after we have finished spending money we can’t really afford to spend, we are convinced we should spend precious time with our loved ones, regardless of where they live. On TV we see people loading into planes and cars to make these trips with their families to visit relatives who greet them so lovingly 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 workers are extra stressed out during the holidays. We are busy working extra hours, trying to squeeze out every last dollar we can 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 exhaustion by the time the holidays come, many of us are denied vacation because our workplaces don’t hire enough workers to grant us the vacation time we want. 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, those in need will still need more help than we can give them once the holidays end. The idea is we should feel thankful we aren’t as bad off as the people we help – well, at least not yet.
There’s something wrong with this picture. Most of us are making less money and doing more work than at any point in US history. So that means we’re spending more time at work, away from our families. We’re more stressed out from all of the extra work. And on top of it, not only are we making less money, but we’re also spending more on basic necessities as we just barely scrape by.
The cure for all of this is supposed to be to spend more money shopping – just handing even more of our wages back to the bosses and the bankers. Since we don’t have enough time to spend with our loved ones, we’re supposed to buy each other’s love with presents. Since we’re so stressed out, we’re encouraged to buy ourselves gifts to feel better. And if we can’t afford to buy love and happiness, then we’re supposed to tap into any savings we have or go deeper into debt. And if we are unwilling to do this – then we should feel ashamed because we’re told there is something wrong with us.
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 time with our friends and families.
And who benefits from this kind of sick logic? The very same banks and corporations that are making record profits off of us. They take our money by making us do more work and lead stressful lives. And they take our money when they convince us to buy products to make ourselves happier and show our love for one another.
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 not celebrating the holidays the way the corporations want us to.