These are a few of the e-mails I received this New Year’s Eve (beyond the multiple e-mails advertising Viagra and Cialis that inhabit my inbox). They’re all from Canadian stores, and each one helps to makes up the bastardized idea of New Year’s that we hold on to.
In 2014, Americans spent 600 billion dollars on Christmas – presents, a Christmas tree, decorations, food, travel, more presents, stockings, desserts, etc. It’s neither a relatively new, nor interesting opinion that holidays have become commodified, yet on New Year’s, the corporate machine shoving savings, deals and doing their best to get our resolutions to be ‘spend more money at the Bulk Barn’ just seems wrong.
But, corporations are part of the holidays, aren’t they? We expect corporations to wish us well for the holidays. We want to see the Wal-Mart banner that says, “Happy Holidays” — or “Merry Christmas” if you’re Donald Trump. We want to go on Twitter and Facebook and see “Merry Christmas from The Bulk Barn” and “Season’s Greetings from the LCBO” and “Happy New Year from Roots Canada” — like vampiric entities, we’ve invited these quasi-corporate identities into our social spaces, our homes and our ideas of what it means to celebrate.
The following are the most frequently made New Year’s resolutions:
1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family
Interestingly, most if not all of these resolutions are “anti-capitalist” in nature. None of them stated that they wanted to “spend more money at stores that out-source jobs” or “use child labour”. Instead, these involve cutting out food, cutting out restaurants, spending less money, putting away consumerist distractions, cutting out cigarettes, rejecting selfishness and finding love. Corporations however, have perfected their marketing technique by getting you to think that all of these things can only be accomplished through consumerism.
The solution to weight loss: instead of buying and eating less food, is buying more supplements and a smoothie maker. The solution to organization, is not less stuff and clutter, but plastic storage containers from IKEA, instead of spending more time with family, buy a Groupon package for the Great Wolf Lodge so you can drop your kids off by the pool and go get a massage. These are not resolutions, these are shopping lists. Sadly enough, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy: the baby-boomers complain that the millennial are too materialistic, but that is only because they were so good at their advertising jobs that we bought into it. Just like they bought into it.
In 2016, don’t focus so much on whether or not the resolution was made as a ball dropped, while you were a bit tipsy on an 8$ bottle of champagne from your uncle’s dusty top cupboard: resolutions and self-improvement are not limited to a holiday. Whether you’re using the Gregorian calendar, the solar Calendar or the Julian Calendar, your resolution-making (and following) doesn’t have to end on January 1, so resolve, follow through and remember that you don’t need a product “as seen on TV” to do it.
- Steve Nadon