Senft: A very capitalist Christmas

While flipping through radio stations on my trip home during the first weekend of November, a familiar tune stopped me mid-seek: "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…"

I thought to myself "Are you kidding me?" Apparently my hometown station started playing its holiday mix the minute Halloween was over, and we have to overdose on Christmas carols from then until Dec. 26.

While the holiday season usually creeps up on us sometime around Thanksgiving, I have never known it to smash me in the face on Nov. 1. The music, the snow-filled commercials, decorated store windows, and Santa's half-built workshop in the center of the mall have materialized to incite in us a need to buy, buy, buy, long before the Thanksgiving turkey has even thawed. The crowds the past few weekends have rivaled some Black Fridays.

With the economy in shambles and the future uncertain, people seem to be hiding from their financial troubles in the toy aisles and clothing racks of the nearest shopping center, and I can only assume that they're paying for it all with plastic. Good luck to them in January when they realize that the joy of the holidays is past and they're still broke victims of a capitalist society preying on the emotionality of consumers who just want to drown their troubles in holiday cheer.

Christmas has long been a consumer holiday, but this year the real importance of the holidays seems especially buried beneath shopping bags. Perhaps it is the dying breath of my idealistic childhood, or maybe I just cannot muster any holiday spirit when the leaves are still on the trees.

The fragile state of the average American's finances creates a rare opportunity to revisit family traditions that have been obscured in the yearly search for the "it" toy. This is not to mention that it is a chance to teach the next generation that there is more to life than a Hannah Montana microphone and a High School Musical wardrobe under the tree before it's too late for them. I have some great memories of past holidays and in many of them, I couldn't even tell you what gifts I received that year.

So the government can keep pouring money into the abyss of Wall Street, interest rates can continue to climb, and people can go on losing their retirement funds. But play a little "Jingle Bells" in the background, and you've got blissfully ignorant consumers and far more than 12 days of Christmas.

One thing is for sure: you won't be hearing any Christmas carols coming from my radio until at least Dec. 1. Take that, capitalism.

Amanda Senft is a junior English major who has no money, but is going to spend it on presents anyway.