Out of the Sandbox

‘Tis the season for singing

Get into the Christmas spirit with Santa, snow, and extra-loud singing. Let's not ruin kids' (and my) favorite time of the year with strategically-planned strum and drang.
December 19, 2012

Am I the only person in the world who looks forward to hearing Christmas music non-stop between Thanksgiving and December 25?  Hearing “the weather outside is frightful” (as long as it really isn’t) immediately sends me into a snow day trance.

Maybe this year I’ll finally be able to recite the Twelve Days backwards. And Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song never fails to crack me up. I listen to carols on my car radio (24/7 stations), my computer, and for those moments away, on my iPhone. I can’t resist a good holiday cover album such as Bette Midler’s Cool Yule or Michael Buble’s Christmas.

So it gave me pause when I read an article by Oliver Burkeman in Sunday’s New York Times that claimed one of the ways retailers make holiday shopping as painful as possible (thereby triggering impulse buying) is by cranking up holiday music and playing the same songs ad nauseam.  Burkeman went on to explain how retailers use scents, product placement and general confusion as other ways to make shopping horrendous. There are multiple studies backing up the positive financial results for such negative experiences.

Why does buying a present for someone you love have to be such a stressful task? In case you forgot, it’s Christmas! (And Hanukkah. And Kwanza.) Turn that frown upside down. ‘Tis the time of year we should be dispensing good cheer and brotherhood instead of short tempers and long lines. Who really doesn’t like the smell of cinnamon and evergreens?

There’s something sinister about taking the joy out of holiday gifting. (And shopping in general, for those who regularly partake in retail therapy.) It’s like wishing for rain on the Macy’s parade or letting The Grinch win. I know there are plenty of studies that show giving presents makes the giver feel as good as the givee. Isn’t that the spirit we want to promote? Why can’t retailers make shopping such a wonderful experience that – surprise – people will actually want to buy more?

We in kids’ media have so much power to affect emotions, behavior, and attitudes. In the best of instances, we can help fight diseases, promote philanthropy, educate, challenge, even babysit. We create great products to those ends. We have the ability to make people laugh and cry, dream and scream.  If holiday music, cheesy decorations and twinkling lights can stimulate over-shopping, they can just as easily set a festive mood to stimulate seasonal giving.  This is our moment  (and quarter) to shine.

So let the herald angels sing…long and loud. I hope you’ll be blissfully humming along with me.

Happy holidays!

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