For many, it’s a Christmas tradition to sit in front of the television and watch the 1965 special “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.” We laugh as Lucy reveals her Christmas wish for real estate, empathize with Charlie Brown’s frustrations, and listen carefully as Linus tells us what it’s all about.
Then we turn off the TV, and make our foot-long Christmas lists– detailing size, style, and sometimes, even price. Is something wrong here?
“There seems to be quite a bit of commercialism,” remarked economics junior John Karagoulis. “It’s been passed down to the rest of society as a commercial holiday instead of religious.”
Today’s Christmas gift exchange, some Christians believe, takes away some of the true significance of the holiday. Gift giving is said to be derived from the wise men’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the newborn Jesus, as Karagoulis pointed out, and from the philanthropy of Saint Nicholas.
A graduate student from India, Finny Mathew, says that Christmas in America features a lot of hype. Here it plays a huge role, he said, noting that gifts are a big deal. He doesn’t have a problem with the commercialization of the holiday but feels that people should still know why they celebrate Christmas.
While commercialization has perhaps led Americans astray from the true meaning, it isn’t all bad. Many still recognize the reason for the holiday, and, as Karagoulis mentioned, it “provides additional work” for a slumping economy in December.
Stephanie Coyle, executive team leader for guest service at the Target in Okemos agreed. Her store, “depending on how staffed we already are,” starts hiring between 50 and 70 employees as early as the beginning of November.
Giving presents at Christmas may boost store revenues, but it also boosts the spirit of those who look forward to the holiday every year, not for what they will receive, but for what they will give others.
“I think about it all year, what I’m going to get people…,” Jenny Lerczak said. The apparel and text design junior usually gets something “pretty big” for her parents, and something “unique and special” for her friends. Buying for her friends and family – including her cousins, sets Lerczak back about $300 as she begins her shopping in the middle of November, but she says it’s worth it to show her appreciation for those she cares about.
And does she worry that her gift-giving risks taking ‘Christ’ out of Christmas?
“No. If anything it brings people closer together.”

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