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Christmas Consumerism

The meaning of Christmas has changed drastically over the years, from plantation owners giving their slaves a small gift, to parents spending an excessive amount of money on their children to appease them.  This new meaning of Christmas has happened for a couple of reasons, one being that society is becoming a lot more materialistic, but another, and a lot more prevalent, is what Gary Cross states in, “Modern Children, Modern Toys”, that, “The shower of gifts became a way of demonstrating personal affluence.  And it did so without seeming to deny the work ethic or ‘normal’ values of thrift. (Cross 59)” To explain this, Cross believes that the reason that people are buying so many gifts and spending any amounts of money on them, is that it is a way to show your community how wealthy your are, but at the same time it is considered ‘ok’ and not snobby because it is Christmas.  I agree with Cross’ thesis that parents spend a lot of money on Christmas because it is a time where they can do so while it is considered fine.  This is clearly something that is happening in modern day culture, because we see it all over the place.  While reading Cross’ article the first thing that came to mind that backed up his thesis was the movie “Jingle All the Way” (which you can read about here).  In this movie Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a father who goes to great length fighting off policemen, a mailman, and numerous other adults just to get this action figure for his son.  In the movie his motivation for getting this “turbo man” doll, is that everyone is getting one, so to look like a good dad he must get one for his son.  While this movie goes to great extremes backing up Cross’ thesis, it does so nonetheless by showing the world this is how ridiculous we look, and this is what Christmas has come to, a battle for who can get better presents where the parents are even more happy than their children when they get the toy, Just Ask Arnold.

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