The Contradictions of Holiday Spirit

Photo Credit: Dakota Wynn ('23)

Contributing Writer Olivia Pontello, ’23

Thanksgiving, a Thursday in November where family and friends come together to express their gratitude for everything we tend to take for granted. Then, 12:00 a.m. hits, and boom. It’s Black Friday. We rush to the malls to fill our bags and empty our pockets. How hypocritical is it that one day we are taught to be grateful for the air in our lungs and the food on our table, while the very next day we are sprinting from store to store trying to snag the best deals for the best items? One may argue that most of the time purchases on Black Friday are for the purpose of gift-giving, which I agree with. However, my problem with this is we, as a society, shift our focus from presence to presents in a matter of hours. Why is our gratitude limited to a single day? A mere 24 hours dedicated to the subjects we should be grateful for every day of the year.

“Kindness and gratitude are not seasonal.”

I find a similar issue with the “holiday spirit” that saturates everything in sight the moment we flip our calendar pages to December. Sure, it’s lovely to be surrounded by positive and joyful people, but why must these attitudes be exclusive? It seems as though throughout December people are oozing kindness, yet the minute New Years passes suddenly their attitudes become as cold as the weather. A positive demeanor is not a decoration to simply put on display around the holiday seasons and stuff up in the attic once the snow turns to sleet. Kindness and gratitude are not seasonal. 

So how can we change this? How can we all work to change such a wide-scale phenomenon? This change in attitude starts with you. We can’t control what mood the people around us wake up in—but you can control your own mood. What I challenge each one of you to do is to be mindful. To take a closer look at the people around you as we shift into the holiday mood. How are your friends and family acting? What are the behaviors of your teachers, peers, and colleagues? Whether it is an increase in generosity — not just in the sense of obligatory gift-giving — but in their more thoughtful contributions which may go unnoticed. Are they more forgiving of mistakes and gracious to the people around them? Do they have more of a glass half full kind of attitude? Are they showing gratitude for the smaller aspects of their daily lives? Are they giving a warm smile to a stranger or a cup of coffee to a friend? Now ask yourself: Why can’t we be like this all year round? 

After a year of extreme social tensions and devastating losses, these positive behaviors seem to be much needed. It is important to remind not just the people around us, but even ourselves, of our humanity. For the common good of society, it is crucial for us to be mindful of our attitudes and our treatment of others. We must all strive to be as virtuous as we can be, regardless of what time of year it is. 

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