The complete commercialization of holidays becomes more and more apparent every year. Maybe it is the plain fact of growing older and gradually becoming the adult purchaser of gifts rather than the receiver. But maybe not.
Halloween has just passed and already the Christmas decorations are going up downtown and in malls everywhere. Consumers are reminded constantly that the clock is ticking only so many hours left to find that special something for Uncle Charlie or the family cat.
And to start off the season right, this week the University Community Centre is bustling with a three-day showcase and sale of holiday gifts. Instead of studying for those upcoming midterms, head down to the atrium and hang out with your pals. Have a blast trying out the inflatable furniture or buy an eyeglass holder for your grandmother. You'll feel like a bona fide mall rat.
Despite this cheery scene of camaraderie and holiday fun, a philosophical problem exists. Why is it, that only a mere week after a silent and discouraging Equity Week, the atrium is again filled with students interested in what is being presented to them?
True, it is hard to stir interest without a colourful display of genuine wool sweaters knitted in Guatemala. But in a place which is supposed to be a centre of higher learning, it would seem common sense that the majority of the student body would be interested in learning something, rather than frivolously spending their precious cash on cheap trinkets.
Sadly, this is what the people want. More discussion has been generated over the price of scented candles than about the issues presented by any group which did or didn't participate in Equity Week. The only issue which garnered any attention during Equity Week was the disagreement between two groups over some literature that was being distributed.
It's time to stop and think. We need to stop opening our wallets and doling out cash for mindless gifts. Stop wasting time searching, for the next 45 days, for the perfect gift. Aren't there more important issues with which to consume our time?
True, shopping has its escapist qualities. Nothing eases stress like a leisurely stroll through a record or shoe store. But that in itself is the problem. Too much of our activity is based on escaping reality and the issues at hand. Sometimes the real world is too much to deal with. But it must be dealt with at some time.
So this holiday season, as we all spend hundreds of hours in mall stores and check-out lineups, we should think of giving ourselves a little gift. Learning something about the world you live in and the people around you is more valuable in the long run than a handcrafted wrought-iron candle holder.