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Valentine’s Day is coming up, but based on the items stores were displaying the day after Christmas, it’s like it’s been right around the corner for the past several weeks.

During this time of year, the holidays seem to blend together, coming before we’re ready and disappearing before we’ve even had a chance to process them.

You can barely get through August without seeing plastic skulls and smiling pumpkins — yet before Halloween is even over, nutcrackers are standing boldly on the shelves while sparkling ornaments dangle behind them.

Thanksgiving is left in the shadows by Black Friday and Christmas commercialism.  On TV, jewelry commercials tell us earnestly that Christmas is the most popular time to get engaged, but as soon as Christmas is over, they’re advertising silver hearts and pink studded bracelets because obviously all women care about is jewelry.

Even a few weeks ago, right after Christmas and certainly before anyone was even thinking about February and Valentine’s Day, a friend and I were walking around a store and noticed it was already decorated with Easter bunnies. The only reason I know what day Easter is — March 27 by the way — is because I looked it up.

I’ll be blunt.  I get that we live in a capitalist society and that holiday commercialism helps the economy and will probably never go away, but let’s take a step back and think about it.

Isn’t it kind of unnerving that Thanksgiving, the holiday centered around being thankful for what you have doesn’t even get a whole 24 hours before people start going Black Friday shopping to get more stuff?  Or that Valentine’s Day, a time meant for us to tell loved ones that we appreciate them, is more about spending money on heart shaped boxes of chocolate, jewelry and roses?

We don’t have time to think about the historical and more substantial contexts behind holidays because things are jumping out at us left and right telling us to buy this and buy that, and even though the holiday in question isn’t over, it’s already time to start thinking about the next one that’s actually months away.

The advertisements tell you that your mom won’t be happy if you don’t buy her that expensive purse for Mother’s Day and your significant other won’t like you anymore if you don’t get them something really luxurious and veteran’s day isn’t even about the veterans anymore, but instead about the day off and the sales going on at the mall.

The holiday induced commercialism isn’t going to change, but our way of thinking about it can.  Slow down, ignore the merchandise around you for a minute and ask yourself what the holiday really means.  It could change your perspective.

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Kristen Fiore is a contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future. 

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