A chaotic capitalist christmas

Christmas brings out the capitalist in me.

Every holiday season the tinsel comes out, lights sparkle through the night and Starbucks starts serving seasonal overpriced drinks. The ravenous consumer in me springs out.

Part of me is so turned off by the consumer culture overload that looms its expensive head come mid-November.

I feel queasy at the massive displays of capitalism on steroids. But another part of me loves it.

I want the ornaments that are way too expensive even though I could probably make them in a few arts and crafts sessions. I want a peppermint mocha latte with lots of whip cream please. I want ugly Christmas sweaters, sparkly decorations, the blinking lights to adorn my bedroom with holiday cheer.

That’s the thing about Christmas. It brings about this hypnotic advertising that makes people develop a sudden amnesia as to the state of their bank accounts and the economic climate.

As someone who has worked in retail through the holiday seasons, I’ve seen my fair share of declined credit cards. Everyone would give me some kind of excuse. But the truth was plain to see: people spend way too much money on Christmas.

The flocks of hungry shoppers would herd in, splurging on $7.99 Papyrus cards, $40 blankets, $20 mugs and other utterly absurd things. I would roll my eyes, scoff at their mediocre budgeting and their sheep-like obedience to “buy this, buy that, there’s a promotion.” And even feel a sense of sadness as I saw people scraping together their cash, waiting in lines with this strange look of desperation in their eyes.

But I realize that, in many ways, I fall for it as well. I don’t spend the money that so many others do but that’s probably because my family is Muslim. Though we do plan a big family get-together for Christmas, we don’t really splurge on each other.

Still, I find myself inexplicably drawn in by the gaudy displays and giant candy canes. I photograph the Christmas trees at all my friends’ houses.

Despite being a leftist, advertising-hating feminist, I have holiday fever that I cannot shake off. I have a love-hate relationship with the consumer culture of Christmas. I walk into Indigo and fawn at their Christmas display, while simultaneously hating that they can price everything ridiculously high and people will still buy their products.

The Christmas fervour of shopping malls and Yonge-Dundas Square is partly a good thing. It creates a sense of community and happiness. And it’s a way to brighten up the cold, overcast dullness of winter. But people really do need to control their spending.

Christmas is a happy time of year that really shouldn’t be followed by debt and almost-mental-breakdowns when your Visa bill haunts you like the ghost of Christmas past.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. But also responsible with budgeting, as un-catchy as that sounds. So happy holidays, and remember: don’t fall for the candy cane donut at Tim Hortons;  it taste likes a cooked Christmas elf.

Scroll over the interactive images to get product prices. 

Indigo in the Eaton Centre. (Hana Shafi / Ryersonian Staff)

Indigo redecorates and sells holiday themed items throughout the season. (Hana Shafi / Ryersonian Staff)

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