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Christmas Spending

Growing up in my family, the holidays were a huge deal. We would gather around the tree and spend hours opening presents.  It was everyone’s favorite day of the year, but not just because of the receiving of presents, a large part of the enjoyment was spending the day with my whole family which does not happen often and seeing the look on their faces when they would open a present that I put effort into looking for and making sure they would like.

Gary Cross’s view of the American Christmas and it being about the spending of money on presents to show off one’s wealth is I believe a bad way of depicting Christmas.  The act of giving presents to your child at least one day a year is a tradition that should keep going.  I believe the majority of parents give their kids presents with the expectation of making their child happy, and if those gifts somehow boast about the wealth of the parents then that is further down the list of expectations for the parents, at least this is how my parents felt.  According to The NY Times the act of giving gifts is important in the role of interaction and the bonding of a family.  Psychologists also believe that the giver of the gifts often reaps more “psychological benefits” then the recipient.  While it is okay to cut back on spending during the holidays, and not overly spoil your child with outrageous gifts, it is still important to keep the gift giving experience alive because if it were gone then you would be missing out on an important connection with your family.

While Christmas has become bigger and bigger during the last century and the act of gift giving has become more extravagant, I still believe that the main purpose of Christmas is still understood.  Even if the world is made aware of our wealth by our giving that does not mean it is a bad.  In 2006, Americans donated almost $300 billion to charities and without the wealth of our nation these donations never would have been made.  According to Tracy Ryan, an associate professor of advertising research at Virginia Commonwealth, “It [gift-giving] shows that a lot of the pleasure is in the giving, knowing you’ve taken care of someone.”

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