Every Christmas, my mother complains because she has no idea what to get me. I haven't asked for a dollhouse in years, but I have yet to move into an apartment of my own, leaving her in gift-giving limbo because I don't quite fit into anything but the gift card demographic (and gift cards just aren't personal enough). She begs me to give her hints or ideas, but nothing comes to mind. Instead of clamoring for every must-have gadget and gizmo, I've always been content with what I have. I'd much rather make a memory than a wish list, but based on all the post-Christmas sale advertisements, the majority would rather remember rough crowds and great deals.Before the last store even closed on Christmas Eve, I noticed an influx of emails touting amazing after-Christmas promotions--some for online gimmicks encouraging shoppers to redeem their gift cards on Christmas Day, others for in-store earlybird specials at the crack of dawn December 26. Even the television commercials scattered throughout It's A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve boasted about 5 a.m. doorbuster deals the day after Christmas (which really contradicts the meaning of the classic film if you think about it). Their focus revolves around the commercialism of Christmas, which continues to leave the season in ruins year after year.
Of course I enjoy unwrapping an unexpected gift, or scoring some fantastic deals. I'm human, after all. But there's more to the holiday season than giving (and getting) the best present for the lowest price. In fact, just the other day I encountered a woman who exemplified the light we should all aspire to shine year-round. I was traveling home on Amtrak, when the woman behind me simply asked me if I knew in which direction the train would be traveling. We bonded over our inability to sit backwards--it makes us nauseous--and she thanked me kindly. Later on, just as she passed by my seat on her way toward the exit, she wished me Happy Holidays. Though simple and brief, this interaction made me realize that the Christmas spirit still possesses the underlying sentiment of goodwill and gratitude. This season of peace has yet to be fully enveloped by greed and selfishness.
Dozens of people will have torn down their Christmas trees by the end of the day, and hundreds more will be bragging about the hideous coat they purchased for 75 percent off, but many others will continue to spread kindness, not perpetuate commercialism. Surely, the economy yearns for activity, but our entire world craves tender, loving care more than Uncle Sam needs his dollar. Perhaps if everyone fixated less on material goods, and put more effort and care into developing relationships, these popular establishments wouldn't need to throw TV commercials and money-saving offers in our faces just to reel us in once more. They would hold our business firmly in their grasp, emphasizing great service over gimmicks throughout the entire customer journey. We have the propensity to give each other, and ourselves, so much more. We need only try.