You Can’t Steal Christmas

This year, in the words of TechCrunch, “Best Buy ruins Christmas.”

Really!??

According to a TechCrunch article published on Friday, titled How Best Buy Stole Christmas, Best Buy made some errors and has had to cancel many orders placed this month and last.  As a result, some of the people who were counting on delivery of Christmas gifts purchased at BestBuy.com will have to change their gift-giving plans.  In the most dire cases, some people may not have ANY wrapped presents to give their loved ones on Christmas!

Best Buy’s error is unfortunate.  It doesn’t seem fair.  The affected customers have a right to be irked.  But the suggestion that Best Buy has RUINED Christmas makes me sad.  I appreciate the value of selective hyperbole in order to make a point, and I don’t think Matt Burns, who wrote the article, actually believes that Christmas is a wash this year just because a big consumer products retailer had some fulfillment issues.  But the fact that this discussion is even on the table says something about the degree to which Christmas has been hijacked by an excessive focus on STUFF.

What is Christmas really about?  If Christmas were only about the exchange of electronic devices, then I suppose Best Buy really might be able to ruin the holiday–but it’s about so much more than that.

I think that in the final analysis, Christmas is really about love, and this is what makes it appealing to many people of all religions.  It is an opportunity to spend time with the people we love, and to express our feelings of affection for them.  The tradition of gift-giving is a wonderful way to do this, and its origins are embedded in the story of Christmas itself: the very first Christmas gifts were given by the Magi to baby Jesus as an expression of their adoration for him.

But gift-giving is just one of many ways to show our loved ones that we care about them. At Christmas, we set aside work and cell phones and sometimes travel long distances to be with our families.  We carry on traditions passed down to us, and sometimes start new ones of our own.  Sharing a special meal or going ice skating, baking gingerbread cookies or helping out at a soup kitchen or decorating a tree: however big or small your family is, and whatever your traditions are, your time and your presence and your love are gifts that no retailer can sell online.  And they certainly aren’t anything that can be cancelled by Best Buy.

Merry Christmas.

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