‘Tis the Season for Controversy


Anne Schill

It’s that time of year again! By now many of you have probably seen several ads for holiday sales on TV, heard jingle bells chiming every time we enter a building and started making plans with family on how to celebrate one of the most festive months of the year. But this joyous time of year has its own set of disputes whether it be at the dinner table or on a Facebook comment thread. Talon staff writers give their opinions on these winter controversies.

Holiday Shopping is Overhyped

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring — probably because they were stuck in traffic on the way to the mall because they put off holiday shopping until the very last minute. Scenarios like this continue to happen yearly despite the fact that stores begin to sell holiday merchandise before we can even start preparing for Halloween. While it is nice to get into the spirit of the holidays, it seems we’ve begun to place more of an emphasis on the shopping aspect rather than the main purpose of the holiday season: spending time with family. We need to stop hyping up holiday shopping because it has managed to turn arguably one of the most joyful times of year into one of the most chaotic.

In recent years, the first ads for holiday sales have been released earlier and earlier. We can’t even focus on enjoying autumn without seeing glimpses of Christmas lights and inflatable reindeers on a trip to the store (looking at you, Costco). Black Friday sales don’t even start on the Friday after Thanksgiving anymore. With people lining up in front of stores during the day on Thanksgiving, we’ve begun to prioritize getting a good bargain over actually spending time with friends and family. I love the holiday season as much as the next person, but I still think that the shopping hype is excessive.

It’s not uncommon to hear stories on the news about fights taking place at stores like Walmart and Target during Black Friday. The fact that people have taken to violent extremes just to get something on sale is absurd — your life and safety are more important than a discounted flat screen TV. I, myself, have attempted to embark on shopping excursions on Black Friday but after getting run over by a woman with a cart filled with Legos and Barbie dolls, I decided that this was not worth the sales.

The fact that we place such a heavy emphasis on the materialistic aspect of the holidays sort of defeats the purpose of the holiday season. The true purpose of the holiday season is to spend time with loved ones and people we care about. The holidays are meant to be relaxing and celebrate the end of the long year. How can we do this when we’re trying to sift through a clearance rack at Target? As appealing as those sales may seem, we’re sacrificing family time for consumerism.

While everyone has differing views on the holidays, the consensus is that the holidays are supposed to be about being with people you care about and not about spending late nights searching for items on your Christmas list at the mall. The economy does benefit significantly from the profits of holiday sales, but the reinforced concept that we have to go all out in terms of gift-giving is absurd. While some of the ads seen on TV make it seem like it’s now or never in terms of shopping, the best deals for specific items don’t actually happen during the holiday season.

Instead of spending hours upon hours shopping and shoving our way through crowds to find the best deals, let’s spend those hours enjoying the holiday season with those we care about. Being able to spend time together and bask in the glee that comes with this time of year is more valuable than any gift you can buy at the store.

To Greet or Not To Greet?

‘Tis the season for frenzied holiday shopping, long-awaited ski trips and our annual national debate on whether people should wish one another “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.” The “war on Christmas” has provoked repetitive political and social skirmishes, such as the annual Fox News segment on this controversy; the perpetual increase of religious and cultural diversity in the country naturally brings about a divide between political correctness and personal affiliations. The unnecessary controversy has misconstrued the fundamentals of the holiday season, support and inclusivity, and we should focus on celebrating the various traditions and backgrounds of the season instead of focusing on our wording.

According to a Gallup study conducted in 2015, 75 percent of Americans identify with a Christian religion. Due to the prevalence of Christianity in our society, Christmas is a widely popularized holiday, with Christmas trees and a “white Christmas” becoming the hallmark for the holiday season. However, several holidays fall under the winter festivities, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, for which “Merry Christmas” would be inapplicable.

Due to the inability to know everyone’s religious affiliation, a mere “Happy Holidays” is not an act of disrespect or contempt toward Christmas or any other holiday, but rather a way to be inclusive and conscious of everyone’s various personal beliefs. In public spaces like schools or shopping malls, “Happy Holidays” appropriately depicts the welcoming spirit of America’s diverse and complex backgrounds without being too specific.

The holiday season is a time of loving and supporting our peers, families and strangers, and the festivities should not be disrupted for a simple salutation. Instead, we can broaden our perspectives and work together to include all traditions and backgrounds as opposed to just trying to please the majority. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and to everyone — Happy Holidays.