The holiday season brings with it a marked increase in commercialism and a familiar moralistic argument that people in Western culture are losing their grip on what the holidays are really about. Martin Lewis for The Telegraph offered a radical solution to this cultural malady: Stop giving Christmas gifts altogether.
Lewis argues that gift-giving has lost its meaning, risks doing more harm than good, and teaches our children the wrong values. It’s a soapbox Lewis has been standing on since 2009, and he has polled individuals himself who seem to agree with his radical notions. Though economic stagnation does come up a time or two in his op-ed, Lewis primarily sticks to the existential concerns of the holiday season, bemoaning the loss of what it means to give and what the hectic shopping season does to our children.
“Young children often want what they want – whether it costs £2 or £200. Yet if their favourite Christmas toy is just a couple of quid, many parents feel guilty buying that alone. They search for something else to hit their own ”spending cash proves I love them’ meter – often even when in dire financial straits.
“The lesson of the past few years is we must teach kids not to completely equate happiness with material acquisition. Sadly, while I’ve been campaigning to get compulsory financial education in schools for a few years now, many children still only get it through the ad breaks.”
Lewis also suggests the damage that gift-giving can do to child socialization, as (he argues) it fosters a sort of class warfare-esque competition between the haves and have-nots.
“School-age children are competitive, comparing gifts. The affluent who buy big gifts add pressure on others who, especially in these times, can’t afford to compete. This gift inflation can be horrid.”
“Some will say my view is unromantic, and others more bluntly call me Scrooge. However, this isn’t about stopping festive fun, it’s a challenge to pressured, blithe and habitual gift-giving.”
You can read Lewis’s post in its entirety here, but be warned: There are some English-isms you may need to look up.
What do you think? Have we lost our grip on what’s important during the holiday season? Are we sending a dangerous message to our children about gift-giving? Should we stop giving gifts altogether? Sound off!