It's Christmas Eve, and every family with kids in elementary school or younger has got its Christmas tree up with presents encircling its base. For those families there is nothing superficial or hollow about this holiday of holidays. But something changes as we age, as we read more books, and get more educated. We grow jaded. Every Christmas "smart people" chime in about how "Christmas is dead, is bastardized, is not supposed to be about shopping and clothes and drinking."
Wah, wah, wah... That's what I say.
I'm not going to debate religion here, because that's a topic I'd like to keep my blogging, economics side away from. However, I will say, empirically speaking, this NEW version of Christmas seems to be working. Religious arguments aside, let's take it from the top:
People spend. People spend a HELL OF A LOT of money from approximately Thanksgiving week to the new year. Ok, consumption is a factor in GDP, so blah blah blah, yes, Christmas spending does help GDP. Great. But that's not my main point. What do we spend on? We spend on others. We buy gifts. This IS Christmas, after all, isn't it. As the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University writes, "According to new research, giving other people even as little as $5 can lead to increased well-being for the giver." Well, that doesn't sound so bad to me...
In line with what I just wrote, giving is a good thing, and I think most would agree with that claim. I know Christmas as we practice it is not in line with any religion, but at least the premise seems right. People are nice to each other, people buy for each other. We may be giving up religion, but I think we're getting something good in return.
Remember the first part of the image I described at the beginning? That family with the kids, the tree, and the presents. They don't seem to worry too much about be true to the original meaning of Christmas. Santa Claus is coming after all, and we must get the cookies and milk ready. Though the rest of us may be growing "smart" and jaded and think we're bringing back the truth of Christmas, it doesn't mean we should ruin it for all those families who truly love this time of year. I'm not talking about getting drunk at your company party. I'm talking about an earnest belief that these are the best times of the year.
Keep your intellectual, religious, learned, scrooginess to yourselves! Let's just have a Merry Christmas!