The Star in the East Was Not a Spotlight

By: Thomas Lindaman

A spirited column…

A couple of local news stories about the holiday season caught my eye recently. One involved shoppers who made their way to the local temple to needless avarice with a food court (more commonly called “the mall”) at midnight the day after Thanksgiving to start their holiday shopping. The other story dealt with a woman who had expensive holiday decorations in her yard demolished by unknown assailants. In both cases, the media treated the mad holiday buying rush and the putting up of holiday decorations that cost more than the Gross National Product of Paraguay to put up and run as “the holiday spirit.”

As you might have figured out by now, my annual call for holiday season sanity is directed at the media. What you guys and gals have been pushing as “the holiday spirit” is anything but. In fact, aside from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that comes close to addressing the true holiday spirit. No, not even the “very special episode” of “Two And A Half Men” where Charlie Sheen’s character learns the true meaning of Christmas from three scantily clad Playboy Playmates representing the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Either that or the Ghosts of Blondes Past, Brunettes Present, and Redheads Future, I’m not sure which. But I do see Charlie’s incredible wit as he delivers his next line, “Ho ho ho.”

The same media that give us “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are the ones who have sold us on an impossible ideal: finding “the perfect gift.” This reduces the holiday season to an odd game show combining “Survivor” with “Supermarket Sweep” and more than a bit of “American Gladiators” mixed in for good measure. (Say, that would be a good idea for a show! Glad I thought of it!)

And here’s the funny part: you can never buy the perfect gift, EVER! As a Christian, my “perfect gift” gets delivered right around Easter when I remember that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive my sins. When was the last time a PlayStation 3 did that for anybody? Never! And do you know why? Because it’s an inanimate object, silly!

Another recent phenomenon created by the media to try to tap into “the holiday spirit” is the 24-hour-a-day-holiday favorites format adopted by some radio stations starting in, oh, November. Granted, with some radio station formats, this might work. If you’re a heavy metal station that plays Metallica? Not so much. It’s quite a shift from “Enter Sandman” to “Here Comes Santa Claus” done by the Ray Coniff Singers. But again, the media don’t get it. I like holiday music as much as the next guy, but I don’t need to be hearing it all day every day until Christmas. Throw in “White Christmas” between spins of Madonna’s “Borderline” and Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun” and you’ll keep me listening without looking for the closest garland with which to hang myself.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what doesn’t constitute the holiday spirit, so let me take a moment or two to tell you what does, in my opinion. It’s the laughter of children playing in the snow, having the times of their lives. It’s the small child trying to wait up for Santa to arrive and falling asleep in his mother or father’s arms. It’s a feeling of joy as you sing holiday songs, religious or otherwise, and enjoy the company of those around you. It’s being with family and friends to share best wishes. It’s the sense of peace as we take a moment to count our blessings.

See? Not a one of those has to do with buying something or showing off decorations. These activities can be part of the holiday spirit, but they shouldn’t supplant it. At the end of the day, anything you buy will wear out or break, but the memories you make right now are what will last for a lifetime. And real life has much better graphics…so I’ve heard.

So, if there are any media moguls or big shot producers reading this, let me be blunt. You guys don’t get the holiday spirit because you’re focusing on the wrong things. Showing shoppers running into a mall at midnight or suggesting that people need to go all out with holiday decorations to get into the holiday spirit is misleading, much like positive reviews for any Jennifer Lopez movie. I don’t expect you to change overnight, but I would like you to try to change. If Bill Murray can do it in “Scrooged,” you guys can.

Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of

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