As my inbox begins to fill with links to Christmas wish lists from my six kids I admit that I begin considering a strategy for Christmas shopping.
Will I just do it all online or will I brave the mall? Having missed Black Friday do I take advantage of Cyber Monday? Do I still have time to make homemade gifts? What do people need? Could I get away with giving everyone alternative gifts this year?
Then I encounter the next layer challenge: Where to shop? Does it matter? Should it?
In the midst of my Christmas-shopping questions, what to my wondering mind should appear, but the annual “Naughty or Nice” shopping guide, from our friends at the American Family Association!
AFA evaluates major retailers in their marketing stance toward Christmas. They explain that each retailer was evaluated according to their print media, broadcast media, website and personal visits to the store.
“If a company’s ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach ‘Christmas’ shoppers. If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word ‘Christmas,’ then the company is considered as censoring ‘Christmas.’”
Each company gets a color rating, as follows:
BLUE: An AFA “5-Star” rated company that promotes and celebrates Christmas on an exceptional basis.
GREEN: Company uses the term “Christmas” on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.
YELLOW: Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others.
RED: Company may use “Christmas” sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.
From a purely marketing perspective, it seems strange that any company would risk alienating shoppers through inattention (active or passive) to the celebration of Christmas. On the other hand, perhaps some companies wager that more Americans are secularist, pluralist, or simply of another faith (Islamic, Hindu, Jewish), and that any loss of business from getting on a Christian’s “naughty” list would be offset by positive vibes they send out to non-Christians.
And, although stores like Walmart and Sears have a “blue rating” in that they promote Christmas in their marketing, the commercialization of Christmas can, in itself, be problematic to our spiritual formation. If a child screams, “I want a Barbie motorcar” or a teen lusts for the latest iPhone due to commercials, it makes little difference whether they are tacking the phrase ” … for Christmas” at the end of their demanding rant.
As always, there are many angles for every issue in our lives. If we are to be reflective and Christ-honoring, we must not jettison the hard work of thinking Christianly about all things.
But for now, I’ve got some Christmas lights that won’t get hung if I don’t get them out of the box.