BY ALEXIA MERSOLA
Christmas is supposed to be this magical time of year, where peace on earth exists. But Christmas is anything but a peaceful holiday. Every year, despite knowing the debts to come, many Americans are unprepared when it comes to coping with the expenses that crop up this time of year. Despite the holly jolly feel of it all, many Americans are caving under the financial pressure that Christmas involves. Christmas has become so commercialized in itself that the holiday doesn’t have the same meaning that it used to.
In case you haven’t already heard, the first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated was on Dec 25, 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December. Santa Claus wasn’t in the picture and it wasn’t about spending money on gifts for your friends and family.
St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifs to people who needed it. Thus the Santa Claus we all know and love was born, or at least the legend of him. St. Nicholas gave to those who needed it, not those who wanted it. This is one of the values of Christmas that has simply lost its way.
There is so much pressure on people nowadays to spend money on gifts that their loved ones want. Everyone feels obligated to give so much this holiday season that it is breaking the bank. One of the biggest pressures I feel during Christmas is having to by others gifts, for I know I will be receiving one from them. There is this, invisible guilt that is placed on myself and although many tell me not to worry about getting them a gift, I know they are expecting one. Christmas raises expectations of giving to the point where everyone believes: If they give, they shall receive. This is not necessarily the case.
This is one of the biggest stressors about Christmas, in my opinion, the feeling that you have to give in order to receive. This is not true. I have realized in my years after high school that I cannot simply afford to get every person out there that I love a gift and that if someone gives me something, I don’t automatically have to break my bank or go out of my way to make a purchase just so I don’t feel like I’m not “giving.” Christmas is suppose to be about love and family, about enjoying the company of your friends and being able to forget about school and work stresses.
But due to the big businesses who commercialized the holiday for all its worth, Christmas has more of a materialistic value thus putting the stress of gift giving to a whole new level. During the holidays, its important to remember what they are really all about, which is not the gifts or cards, no its not even really about Santa or Jesus (though that’s a whole other issue in itself). This year instead of stressing about what to buy, spend this time with your family and friends and make some memories. Gifts are nice in the short term, but memories last a lifetime.