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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Christmas spirit still embodies generosity

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The stores are packed full of Christmas decorations and TV commercials advertise the newest toys and gadgets with promises of free layaway.

    Oh, wait, it’s only early November.

    It’s easy enough to criticize the commercialization of Christmas for taking away from the “true spirit” of the holiday, but that would ignore all the good that comes from commercialization.

    Christmas does, of course, have its roots in Christianity, though according to a 2010 Gallup Poll, 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas while only about 77 percent of the country identifies as Christian. The same poll shows that just over half of Americans view the holiday as “strongly religious.”

    About 62 percent of Americans attend religious services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, while 93 percent exchange gifts. The modern interpretation of the Christmas season clearly isn’t what it used to be. Hillary Hovey, a junior studying family studies and development, said that it seems too early for the Christmas season to be upon us.

    “It’s a bit much for me,” she said. “I love Christmas, but we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet, and Halloween just passed, so it’s kind of overwhelming to already see Christmas stuff [in stores].”

    But that isn’t to say that the evolution of Christmas into a time of hyper-consumerism is inherently evil. In fact, buried beneath the greedy consumerism, which is so easy to roll our eyes at, is a hint of generosity that should restore some of our faith in humanity. There is #GivingTuesday, capitalizing on the well-known Black Friday frenzy and Cyber Monday, which launched last year as a day for people around the world to take a step back and donate to charitable organizations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

    Blackbaud, a supplier of products that focus on fundraising and financial management for nonprofit organizations, recorded a 53 percent increase in online donations on Nov. 27, 2012 compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year, totaling more than $10 million.

    DonorPerfect, another fundraising software provider for nonprofits, recorded a 46 percent increase in online donations on that day compared to the year before, and the average amount of the donation increased by 25 percent.

    For its first year, that isn’t too bad. And #GivingTuesday isn’t the only example of Christmas time inspiring people to give.

    In a survey from Ask your Target Market, 57 percent of people said they donate their time and/or money during the holiday season. The Center on Philanthropy reported that the average person gives 24 percent of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, which only accounts for about 9 percent of the days in a year.

    The Network for Good reported that the average donation amount during the holiday season is higher than during other times of the year. In December 2010, for example, the average donation was $142, as opposed to $91 for donations during other months. More than 30 percent of Network for Good’s donation processing occurs during December.

    In 2012, the Salvation Army helped more than 4 million Americans with holiday assistance. Shawna Kroh, the public relations director for the Salvation Army office in Tucson, said the Angel Tree program, where the public can select tags with gift suggestions off Christmas trees in malls and other private companies, distributes gifts to about 1,600 children in the city each year.

    “The malls get the most tags and we get the most toys from the malls,” Kroh said.

    If Christmas wasn’t the huge commercial deal it currently is, these programs wouldn’t be nearly as successful.

    The true spirit of Christmas may be different than it used to be, but that isn’t all bad. Consumerism can also bring out the generosity in people to help others who are less fortunate. Maybe the Christmas season is still about giving after all.

    Nathaniel Drake is the opinions editor. Follow him @nsdrake.

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