When loving middle and upper-class parents decide to satisfy every material desire of their offspring around the holidays, they are also seizing an opportunity to show off their hard-earned wealth to friends and neighbors. How else would a well-to-do businessman let everyone know how hard he has worked other than showering his kids with the latest and greatest toys money can buy during the time of year when indulgence and consumption are as prevalent as chilly weather?
Gary Cross asserts that the holiday spirit of giving is only a veil that covers the true motives behind excessive consumption during the holidays. Parents spoil their children on Christmas to display the “personal affluence” that the American dream explicitly offers (59). The desire to display wealth and success is an innate characteristic of people living in affluent communities. While there might be many reasons behind a rich man buying a flashy car, it can always be assumed that because he doesn’t buy a modest car, he wants to look rich. But parents can’t constantly allow their children to indulge in an endless supply of toys; that would look sinful. Parents use the loophole commonly known as Christmas to achieve their desire to display wealth without seeming vicarious, simply because everyone else does it. The idea that Christmas is a time for “eating, drinking, and loafing” plays into the idea that spoiling children during the holidays is socially acceptable (59).
The argument in which this assertion is being made, however, is not black and white. While I advocate Cross’ belief that parents spoil their children on Christmas for the sake of an affluent appearance, I am not saying that a wealthy father can’t buy his daughter the finest doll on the market only because he loves her. But Cross’ argument is a generalization that is meant to pertain to society as a whole. Within the masses of affluent people in this country who give tons of gifts to their children for the sake of appearance lies a pocket of parents who give for love and for love only. These individuals have been, what a Bill Murray fan might call, Scrooged; individuals who, due to particular experiences and circumstances, give for the sake of giving. From this one can conclude that an ideal society contains a significant amount of Scrooged parents and a much smaller population of those who give for the sake of appearances.