Is This What Christmas Has Become?

I’m not a last minute shopper. Every year I try to get my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving, so I can relax and enjoy the simple things at Christmas time…friends, family, music, baking, and the list goes on. I generally succeed at being ready far in advance.

It’s been a few years since I’ve hit the mall in the week leading up to Christmas, but I headed there on Saturday. I had a $10 off  JCPenney coupon I wanted to use. JCPenney was busy, but people were friendly. I found a great sweater, paid for it (only $4.99 after the coupon!), and headed to my car.

I needed a few drugstore items, so I figured I’d take the shortcut through the mall parking lot to Target. It’s usually a shortcut, anyway. Traffic was backed up like it was rush hour in Los Angeles. By the time I realized how bad it was, I was stuck in the middle, and there was no turning back. It took me, and I’m not exaggerating here, an HOUR to get out of the mall parking lot.

By that time, I just wanted to get home, so I skipped Target and the UPS store and headed straight home. But while I was sitting in my car, singing The Revelation Song at the top of my lungs (yes, as a matter of fact, I did get some strange looks), I began to think about what Christmas has become. And it made me sad.

People are Rushed

I spent an hour and a half at the mall to buy one thing. Though annoying, it was OK for me. I didn’t have any other plans, and my Christmas preparations are pretty much done.

But my guess is that most people who were at the mall on Saturday weren’t out for a leisurely afternoon. They were scrambling to buy last minute Christmas gifts. Amidst the crowds and stress, I’ll venture that they weren’t putting a ton of thought into what they were buying. They were just trying to get DONE. Furthermore, because the crowds and traffic were so bad, shopping that would normally take an hour was taking 3 times that long, not helping the holiday stress.

People are Rude

My experience in JCPenney was actually pretty good. Both the customers and the employees were very friendly. But once I got into the parking lot…watch out!

The drivers were ruthless. At one point I had to make a left turn across bumper to bumper traffic going in both directions. The car going the opposite way of my destination stopped for me, but the lady in the car in the lane I needed to get to gave me one nasty look and hit the gas. Fortunately I was able to squeeze in behind her.

Then I proceeded to watch her be rude to many other drivers, as she tried to make a left turn…and nobody would let her in. She definitely wasn’t the only rude driver in the parking lot Saturday. Even the guy in front of me, whom I personally let in the traffic lane, was a jerk when it came to letting other poor drivers try to get into the slow moving lane. So much for paying it forward.

People Miss the Meaning of Christmas

Whether you believe in Christmas as a celebration of Christ’s birth, as I do, or whether you celebrate it as a secular holiday, I think most people agree that Christmas is about giving. Christ gave his life. Santa is based on St. Nicholas, who was said to have given many secret gifts to those around him.

Christmas isn’t a time to “get through.” It’s not a time to be rude to others, so you can get your parking spot, space in the checkout line, or trinket first. It’s not a time to buy loads of meaningless junk, just so you can say you gave a gift.

It’s a time to reflect on all you have…relationships, health, salvation. It’s a time to show kindness to our friends and neighbors. It’s a time to give to those who are less fortunate.

What has come over us as a country? Even during Christmas it seems that things are more important than people. Instead of looking out for our fellow man, we look out for number one. Instead of stopping to appreciate all that we have, we long for all that we don’t.

Please stop. Take a breath. For this week slow down and take time to appreciate all that you have.

Photo by Christiano Betta.


By , on Dec 22, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. AP:

    [Is This What Christmas Has Become?…]

    Yes. It has. And from my vantage point, has been this way for almost 20 years. I’m always amazed at listening to people in stores who just want to get the cheapest gift possible for someone, as if scoring a deal is the most important part of this season.

    Christmas seems to have gotten away from people and they truly don’t know how it happened or why it is so commercial. I strongly suspect these same people don’t see anything wrong at all with their behavior and attitude, and rather think it’s the other person who doesn’t get it.

    And no, I do not celebrate Christmas. It’s not my holiday. However, I’m watching the same thing happen with other religions who also have holidays or festivals at this time of year. It’s very sad and disheartening as more holidays become appropriated and turned into fodder for commercial gain and greed.

  2. Jo:

    Oh Lynnae, I’m bummed that you had an overall poor experience with shopping that day. My husband and I were out shopping with our toddler today (big brother was at grandparents’ house) and we only saw one instance of selfishness by shoppers. One mom with a stroller let her elementary-aged kids sit down on the floor of an elevator, hogging the whole thing and not letting others on. BUT every other store we went into, even though some were quite busy, was fairly pleasant. Clerks were cheerful, shoppers held open doors for one another, etc. When my DH began to get annoyed with traffic (which wasn’t too bad) I reminded him we weren’t on a time schedule and that we were together, spending family time. Hopefully the spirit of good cheer isn’t dead after all!

  3. For this very reason I have avoid malls like the plague for the last 10 or 15 years.
    (Once upon a time in NYC is was fun to go to the big department stores and see all the displays, not to mention Santa Claus!)I have been there working as a spritz lady – and even then I could get in and out avoiding the crush. Some people seem to LIKE the stimulation of the crowds’ energy – but I really hate it and always have. Gives me claustrophobia.

    I plan my life to work around getting into situations like that – whether it’s Xmas or another occasion. And I start my Xmas shopping (& NOT in a mall) in the fall so that I am usually done by the first of December. I have never had a lot of $ in my adult life – but one can always give gifts – used books can cost 25 or 50 cents if you know where to look – and a good book is always a great gift. I have combed good thrift shops for frugal presents for years.

    The gift exchange my husband and I have nowadays is frugal but there is always something surprising to unwrap – isn’t that 1/2 the fun? And the wrappings can be colorful pages from your daily paper! or brown paper from the eco-friendly grocery bag. No need to get Scroogy – just put on your thinking cap and exercise your creativity.

    (If you are interested you could look at my frugal blog Pam’s Pennypinching with Style at to read my day-to-day frugal take on the holiday.)


  4. We do all our shopping online, since we live in our RV. This year, we were particularly glad we had, as I’ve heard from several friends they had the same experience you did. It doesn’t take a shrink (which I am) to figure that this extra rudeness is due to all the stress everyone is under this year due to the economy. It’s unfortunate that instead, we’re not pulling together and helping more. Your post was a good reminder to me. Thank you.

  5. Hi, I really enjoyed your post. I whole-heartedly agree. The greatest celebration of us all receiving the most perfect gift has become one of stress, materialism, and greed. I think these are the times in which those of us who are believers must strive to live in this world, not of this world. It takes true effort to go against the grain of society and not get caught up in the pressures that are placed upon us. We need to decide for ourselves and our families what values we want to emulate and do that each and every day, not just at Christmas. We need to live out our values, in spite of what everyone else is doing. Sometimes we just have to say “I’m not going to be a part of that.”

  6. Marj:

    I thouroughly enjoyed the way you stated it, Yvonne, as this is what my heart feels.
    What would people do nowadays if Christmas was abolished as it was in the 17th century by the Puritans. In one word……..MUTINY. It was abolished because of several factors……………and greed was among them.
    Giving to the less fortunate, loving all folks, and thanks to our maker. This is my Christmas.

  7. marci:

    I buy all year long, and try to be done by Sept. This year it was October, but it that was ok. I mail Nov. 1 and am done!

    The time before Christmas I relax and take time to enjoy the joy on my Grandkids’ faces as they go thru this time. I am grateful to be able to go to their little school and church programs and to bake cookies with them :)

    For me, the Christmas season is a time of Giving, of Gratitude, of Graciousness, and Good Will, and God. I want to be relaxed and unhurried and be able to enjoy this special season.

    And yes, baking… my family likes the traditional baking – homemade pies, quiches for Christmas morning, MaMa’s date nut squares, and the family cookie favorites…. so there’s flour on my keyboard probably as I type this and wait for the kitchen timer to go off! Enjoy this season!

  8. Amen.

  9. KJ:

    Over the past decade, I’ve gradually faded out gift buying from my life. My children still receive three gifts each and usually at least one thing they really wanted. This has helped the madness. Early in my parenting I used to go “all out” and can remember a time between myself and my extended family that my oldest would actually get tired of unwrapping presents! Later I would stress that both kids got the exact number of presents rushing out at the last minute to buy one more for one of them just so they would be even. Now I set the limit at three at home. My extended family no longer exchanges gifts at all at my prompting, but instead gives to a charity together. My husband and I give each other gifts of our talents–one year I got a carefully editing and soundtracked dvd of our home movies. We also have set a rule of making all gifts for our parents as well. This leaves 6 gifts to buy only and I have it done long before Nov.

    The last weekend before Christmas I save for baking, caroling and decorating–NEVER shopping.

    Merry Christmas

  10. Dawn:

    Gosh, great post. Like you I have most of my shopping done and plans are set, but even doing little things (like going to the store today to buy lentils) has become madness. We all need to take a deep breath.

  11. yvonne:


    Sadly, this happens because folks are trying to squeeze into one day, a celebration that should be celebrated everyday of our lives. I dare say that many celebrate all the temporal things of the world, rather than the true reason for the season, Jesus.

    If there is one thing that is true about this holiday, is that what is the idols of our hearts are clearly displayed by our thoughts and actions.

    I would only add to your post, that we should be grateful to Jesus for any blessings He gives…the temporal, of course, but especially the one that counts, eternal life with the One who gave His life for us.

  12. Ki:

    Amen sister. I too experienced the lack of “Christmas” on that day. Sunday was much queiter at the mall I go too. Merry Christmas!!

  13. Lynnae, this is the exact reason why I have been doing ALL of my Christmas shopping online for several years now.

    Many people in this country have completely lost the true meaning of Christmas and the xmas spirit as it is/was intended.

    You’re right, the mentality is “it’s all about me” and it’s only getting worse. Pure and simple selfishness.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  14. I would venture to guess that the parking lot nightmare had less to do about Christmas and more to do about being just not knowing how to be a kind driver. I see that kind of thing in parking lots year round.

    Anyhow, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  15. I go all out for Christmas (more than others but I pay cash) but I’ve always found people to be nicer at this time of year…dunno maybe it’s just dumb luck. I do remember a lady about 7 years ago that gave hubby the finger for stealing her parking spot, but not since. I think with Box Stores, things are more spread out so there aren’t the mall parking lots as much…maybe that’s it???

  16. tami dutill:

    My kids were brought up that christmas is not a free for all.We celebrate jesus life and while i do indulge, they only get about 100 a piece on them…………i have never been well of….where my youngest 2 get slammed with presents from their father and step mother….me and their step father do what we can.

  17. vilkri:

    It is too bad that consumption has taken over much of our lives. This is especially sad during the holiday season which should bring people and families together. Unfortunately (buying) things gets in the way of that. Worse even, these things are often the cause of strive which seems to be very prevalent during the holiday season.

  18. Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet:

    We went to Costco last night and it was packed. There was one lady yelling… and I mean yelling… at her kids about them leaving something in the car she told them to bring. And I saw two other couples having full on arguments. It’s crazy out there!!

  19. I just got off the phone with my husband who graciously agreed to go get a few groceries and great deal at CVS so I wouldn’t have to drag the kids out. He said traffic and attitudes were terrible. It is sad that Christmas creates such stress.

  20. AngelSong:

    You hit it spot-on, Lynnae. My husband and I are not exchanging gifts from any stores this year. We simply do not have the money, and we do not own credit cards. But that does not mean we will be giving each other nothing. We will have some quiet time together, and we will be watching movies, literally counting our many blessings, listening to carols, reading the true Christmas story, and sharing a special Christmas dinner, just the two of us, using food we bought on sale when we were shopping for our annual Thanksgiving open house.

    We do not have to deal with packed malls, rude drivers, bad weather, or strain our already tight budget to do any of the things we are planning, and the memories will be priceless.

  21. A really nice post and so true. It makes me a little sad, but also very grateful for how we’ve chosen to celebrate.

  22. FFB:

    Happens to us every year – We head out to pick up a couple of items like we would any other weekend. Then BAM!, we’re stuck in holiday shopping traffic! On the one hand so many people have a great attitude and understand what the holidays mean. On the other, just enough people take the shopping opportunities to mean they need to do everything in their power to put themselves first to the point that it’s dangerous to be out!

    So yes, for a lot this is what the holidays mean – rushing out, being rude to make sure they can buy what they need at any cost.

    Not everyone is like this but just enough to make it bad.

  23. Kyle:

    Very well said Lynnae. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  24. Amen! I get frustrated at this whole thing. It has become so commercialized and in many ways it has sucked all of the fun and joy out of Christmas.

    That’s why I try hard to shop early and/or online for gifts. I also get a lot of joy out of homemade gifts myself.

    And when I get really frustrated with Christmas shopping and all of the hubbub associated with it, I just watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and think to myself “Maybe Christmas isn’t something you buy at the store – maybe Christmas means a whole lot more!”

  25. It’s sad but true. I try to stay out of the craziness and do all my shopping online. I passed the mall the other day and traffic was so bad you would have thought the whole city was trying to get to the mall.

    The holidays are truly a time to reflect on the good things in life. Health, family and friends!!

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