Societal consumerism has altered season’s meaning

Thanksgiving dinner took me more than 14 hours to prepare. I cooked more than ten dishes, which I placed in elegant cream-colored china and set atop a gold table runner. In the center of the table, I lit a golden candelabra with candles that perfectly matched the china.

Thanksgiving dinner itself lasted no more than half an hour at my house. I did more than fourteen hours of active preparation, months of agonizing over the menu, days of obsessing over the presentation and it was all for thirty minutes of family enjoyment.

After dinner, my family stayed in playing board games and visiting. But while many families like mine spent time together, according to the National Retail Federation, more than 35 million Americans were shopping on Thanksgiving evening. Others spent the day watching football or creating wish lists for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

I have to wonder at what point the holiday season became more about pretty tablescapes, good food, shopping and football than it is about family time.

According to folklore, Thanksgiving began as a celebration of thanks between the pilgrims and the Native Americans. Children’s books and popular culture describes the first Thanksgiving as a time when people came together, spending time being content in the simplicity of togetherness. Our culture idealizes this allegory, and I would argue this idealization is actually good.

There’s something highly attractive about the holidays marking a time of simplicity and quiet.

But that’s not what actually happens. Rather than bringing the restful time of year, the holidays bring a series of rush. There’s a rush Thanksgiving morning to get the turkey in the oven. There’s another rush at 9 p.m. when Target finally opens their doors. Again, a rush the morning of Black Friday. Then, a rush to get the house decorated for Christmas so it looks as good as the neighbors’.

It seems to me that even those of us who don’t shop on Thanksgiving or don’t watch football or wait until December to put up our Christmas trees still can’t overcome the haste of our culture during the holidays. And Christmas is no better than Thanksgiving.

Christmas always seems to move past the archetypal spirit of giving and into the contemporary reality of the spirit of getting.

It’s about having the most presents under the tree. It’s about getting the most bang for your buck during Cyber Monday. It’s about putting up the most lights on the block.

Where is the quiet? Where is the sloth and rest that we so desperately need just once per year? Where is the family connection, the satisfaction in simplicity?

We have got to learn how to reconnect with what the holidays are truly about—rest and relationships.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to

The Smudge: The North Face

Raise your hand if you own a North Face product; that should be all of you. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been outside; that should be about seven of you. OK, before I continue, let me just set the record straight. I own about 38 North Face products, and I certainly am not slapping a horse I haven’t ridden (I’m pretty sure that’s a saying, right?). But let’s just say that there is definitely an inverse ratio between the number of North Face products you own and the amount of time you’ve actually spent exploring the outdoors. But I love the North Face, and here is why. The products allow you to create an illusion that you are adventurous and outdoorsy without actually needing to spend any time outdoors. Let’s be real, hiking and climbing are exhausting, risky, and make you all sweaty. Gross! But just in case, at least you got the gore-tex moisture-wicking technology base layer from their Fall 2012 lineup, right?

The North Face makes some quality products. I have no argument against that. Their goose-down jackets are capable of keeping you warm in even the most freezing temperatures and are just PERFECT for the adventurer who has to walk 50 yards from their dorm to the HUB on a crisp fall day. They also make some great rain jackets that will keep you dry even in the most torrential downpours, and are accented nicely by a cute pair of Uggs and yoga pants. Not interested in the North Face? Don’t worry, there are other options. If you are of the trendy, earth-conscious hipster variety, maybe you should consider Patagonia. You can find a nice purple fleece at any thrift store, or just steal that teal windbreaker from your Dad’s closet. Or maybe Columbia is more your thing, provided that you are a 38-year-old father with two kids and a mini-van. If neither of those tickle your fancy, then you can always become a rich 50 to 60 year-old retired businessman and go with Arc’tyrx at $600 a jacket, which you can then wear when you go on walks around the neighborhood with your wife.

There are so many options and ways to brand yourself as an adventurer, and I know it can be overwhelming. Whatever your jam is, just know that cool and trendy outdoor products are almost always the next best thing to spending time outdoors. Keep in mind the North Face’s call to “Never stop exploring,” but don’t feel like you need to take that TOO literally.   Jonny Strain Columnist

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