Last year my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told them they didn’t need to get me anything. I no longer celebrated Christmas. I’ve grown tired of the rampant consumerism associated with a holiday season that originally came about because humans were simple thankful they had survived another frigid, harsh winter. Although I have no problem with people celebrating any of the winter holidays, I can say my life has been amazingly less stressful during this time of the year. Meanwhile others bustle around to buy gifts, half of which well end up in a storage bin anyway.
Diamonds are not rare and their use in marriage proposals is a recent one. De Beers was the originator of the idea that “A diamond is forever,” and through decades of marketing campaigns, they drilled this idea in the psyche of Americans and eventually the world2. In the same way, the collective marketing of world industries has turned the Holiday season into one of global consumerism.
Although zealots decree their holiday should be brought back to its origins, they do so ignoring the fact that that story of Jesus in the Bible is not original, but an amalgamation of several other gods such as Krishna from Hinduism3. All the while, many of them still hold to the religious beliefs of buying new flat panel TVs, expensive jewelry and smart phones as part of their holiday celebration.
It is a very funny thing how the phrase “…in order to be perfect, sell all your possessions and give all your money to the poor4,” is selectively forgotten or disregarded by those who worship the originator of the statement. As with professional sports and the twenty-four hour news networks, purchasing and consumption have become their own belief system; complete with passionate fervor, zealots, sacrifices and a holiday.
And so we went shopping! We so went shopping, in rumbling herdlike elephant masses, we killed a guy who didn’t get out of the way fast enough. It’s a tragic incident, but by no means meaningless. Shopping is a religion, and some religions demand sacrifices. The Wal-Mart employee died for us on Black Friday, but have we stopped to think what his sacrifice means? Not at all: We’re stampeding right on through to the other side of Christmas. We aren’t just shopping: We are saving America. … And now that we are officially in a recession and too tired from shopping to figure anything out, they are making us feel guilty of murder, which we may well be. But we were just following orders. -Andrei Codrescu1
1 Deadly Stampede At Wal-Mart Not Surprising NPR. Codrescu. December 3, 2008.
2 Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond. Epstein. The Atlantic. February 1982.
3 Specific similarities between the lives of Jesus and Krishna. Robinson. ReligiousTolerance.org. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
4 Matthew 19:21