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Christmas 'jingling' now found in Pokemon pockets

Nov. 30, 1999

It's been years since I've written a letter to Santa Claus. But if I were to write a letter this year, it would go something like this:

Dear Santa,

I've tried to be really good this year. But then again, nobody is perfect. If it's not too much trouble, all I really want is for the meaning of Christmas to be restored. Thanks.

I should probably just save myself 33 cents and toss the letter. I don't suppose there is much those little toy-making elves can do to spread peace, love and understanding. They're just as much a part of Christmas commercialism as day-after-Thanksgiving sales and those obnoxious lighted life-size plastic nativity scenes that show up in people's yards this time of year.

I'm no bah-humbug. Actually, I love Christmas. I love my idea of Christmas. However, I don't care for Christmas commercialism. Every year we lament how the true meaning of Christmas is lost and how the mall Christmas decorations appear earlier and earlier. So why not change things?

Two words. Materialism and capitalism.

Too many people and corporations profit financially from this time of year to abolish

Christmas commercialism. Americans entrenched in the holiday spirit are expected to spend up to 6 percent more on gifts this year than last year. And all the dot-coms are expecting booming business in online sales from armchair bargain hunters who don't want to fight the traffic and crowds to find that perfect gift for everyone on their list.

Spending money we don't have, sitting in traffic, waiting in long lines, outdoing each other in gift giving, pretending to be nice to people--all these things get in the way of Christmas. E.B. White wrote, 'To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.' The layers of wrapping we put around Christmas compel us to give into the ploys of materialism and capitalism. We are urged to buy more and better stuff. Instead of sharing and giving of ourselves, we are sometimes made painfully aware of just what we can't afford and what we don't have. Or sometimes we are made painfully aware of just how much we do have.

And that makes us feel guilty. This guilt drives us to do several silly things in celebration of the holidays. Mandatory happiness is enforced. If you're not into the spirit of the season, then something is wrong with you. We make token contributions to charities to ease our guilt, as if this is the only time of year people are hungry and poor. We feel bad if we are given a gift and we have nothing to give in return. Usually sane and friendly people engage in vicious brawls over the last Pokemon toy or whatever the hot item of the moment is.

This is not Christmas. This is sheer lunacy. And we wonder why some people hate Christmas.

Why not tear through these layers of wrapping with the gusto of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning? The true meaning of Christmas is still there. We just have to unwrap it.

Laura Clark is a senior journalism major from San Antonio.