Yes, I do believe that the holidays bring out the subliminal mean streak of our society--the perpetual stress of merely thinking about spending time with family, the self-endowed entitlement of some, and the shopping crowds. Everyone searching for the "perfect" gift for the "perfect" people in their lives. I don't know if the current economy exacerbates this mean streak, but it sure seems to consistently rear its ugly head around this time of year, every year. I can almost pinpoint the collective bad behavior to an exact date.
We need to chill out, mellow out...remember that consumerism shouldn't drive our reactions.
I suggest that instead of spending away at every seemingly-good deal--hoping that one of the gifts will "fit" a person on your gift list--we should entertain what the holidays truly means; not its point of departure or arrival, but its whole meaning.
For me, the true meaning of the holidays include:
Reminding yourself who matters in your life and why (and in turn, remembering to be nice);
Shopping handmade and/or creating gifts;
And taking the time to reconnect with loved ones (this is not the same as the last-minute scheduling of spending time with others, or expecting someone to be free when you are because--let's face it--sometimes I don't feel like going out last minute).
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of holiday contemplation, but it works for me.
I will be supporting handmade this holiday season, as well. I will save the big-bargain shopping for others who can deal with the exuberant crowds, the Christmas music, and the mass marketing campaigns.