Its about 2 weeks before Christmas and Chanukah has come and gone, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. I don’t want to sound like The Grinch, but so far, I really like it. I missed having a good Chanukah meal with my family and I know I’ll miss Christmas dinner and hanging out with my family on Christmas morning (yea, I do both), but I’ve really enjoyed being removed from “the holiday season” in the US.
There’s three reasons why I think it doesn’t feel like the holiday season to me right now. First, it’s 80 and sunny every single day in Santiago. I’m used to it being 20 and snowy during Wisconsin’s December, so it’s quite the difference. I just can’t picture it being Christmas time without the cold. Second, there doesn’t seem to be as much Christmas music, advertising and products in stores compared to the US. Yes, our grocery store has a Christmas display near the front of the store and there’s Christmas lights on Pedro de Valdivia (our street), but compared to home light displays, store displays and Christmas music in every store, it’s nothing.
Third and I think most important, Christmas is much less commercialized in Chile. Only about 10% of TV commercials are about buying things for Christmas, compared to seemingly 50% in the US. I’m watching about the same amount of TV as I do at home, but it seems like I’m seeing way fewer Christmas commercials advocating buying all sorts of things. It’s more low key here and seems to be more religious, not materialistic. That’s not to say that people don’t give and get presents, but it seems way less than the in your face materialism that US Christmas has become. There certainly weren’t people waiting outside stores at 3am to get the best sale price. Nor are there slogans like “More Values, More Christmas” like in the US.
I really have grown to dislike many parts of the holiday season in the US, so it’s been a nice break to disconnect this year. It bothers me to see so many commercials that equate buying things with happiness. It’s one of the things that’s wrecking the US. People have been conditioned to think that they need all sorts of things instead of the things that matter: people, experiences, knowledge.
What do you think? Am I just a grinch? Are you seeing more materialism in this year’s holiday season?