spirit? Bah, humbug
By Tyler Riggs
December 15, 2006 | What ever happened to that Christmas
spirit everyone used to talk about?
You know, that little notion that it's better to give
than to receive. The one where helping others is more
important than helping yourself?
Some might say it's still alive, but after looking
at more than 1,000 people lined up to get into an electronics
store the day after Thanksgiving, I have to disagree.
"Christmas spirit" is like a sick reindeer. A world
of Nintendo Wiis, Playstation 3s and Tickle Me Elmo
Extremes has helped foster a society where children
think the meaning of Christmas is to not only get something,
but get something cool.
As far as I can tell, this all started in about 1985.
Please forgive the fact that I was born in 1984, and
have little experience before then. It was about that
time that a Japanese company known as Nintendo came
out with their Nintendo Entertainment System video game
console. In years past, sure, kids had things like Coleco
Vision and Atari to play with, but now Nintendo was
bringing games like Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt to
families in 8-bit graphical splendor.
Kids who didn't get a Nintendo that year just weren't
cool. Just like they weren't cool in 1991 when Super
Nintendo came out, or in future years when other game
consoles came out like the Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64,
Playstation and Xbox. You didn't have to have them all,
but you had to have at least one of the most current
ones to be the kind of kid that all the neighbors would
want to come over to your house.
Nothing says "Christmas spirit" like sitting around
the old Sony plasma screen blowing away aliens with
the kid next door.
For years, the old Christmas spirit was there to protect
the evils of corporate marketing and greed from entering
the bedrooms of our children. Kids used to be happy
with a stick and a rock for Christmas (or so I was told
by grandparents.) Then came the days of Rock Em' Sock
Em' Robots and Barbie dolls, which were pretty popular
while still leaving some creativity to the kids.
In the 1980s, while the video games were getting their
foots in the door of our Christmas spirit-less lives,
toys like Legos made an attempt to save the creativity
of our youth, but it wasn't long before even they succumbed
to the rapacity of the video game industry, creating
Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog themed Lego sets.
And if you had those video game Legos but no console?
You weren't cool.
So what happened between 1985 and 2005 was that each
November, kids would start demanding that their parents
get them the latest video game or video game console.
If when they opened their presents on Christmas Day
they didn't get what they asked for, they'd cry, yell
at their parents, and then retreat to their rooms to
throw their old game controllers against the wall in
a fit of rage.
Instead of thinking of others, these kids were only
thinking about getting their game. Instead of being
little angels with halos on their heads, the kids became
little devils with the game "Halo" on their brain.
So for people between the ages of 20-30 right now,
people who are in the first generation of growing up
with these video game systems so omnipresent, things
need to change to keep the next generation from being
as greed and "ho ho ho-less" as we have been.
Instead of forking out $60 for the latest version
of "Madden" football, perhaps you could take your children
to a homeless shelter and give the money to people who
truly need it. Instead of purchasing that lavish vacation
to the Bahamas, consider the fulfillment you'd receive
from helping feed 20 families.
It's great that Christmas is a time of giving, but
somewhere along the way we lost sight of what we really
should be giving. Instead of giving as a means to benefit
others, we're just giving for the sake of greed -- and
that is when the Christmas spirit dies.