On the Thursday before Christmas, while walking around the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport towards my gate, I was entirely unsurprised to see a Christmas tree, a mailbox for writing letters to Santa, and red, white, and green dominating my peripherals. As advertised in countless winter cliches, the airport was buzzing with a sense of fulfillment, anticipation, and cheer.

Obviously, if I were to fly to New York on every December 22nd for the next ten years, nothing would change. It is in no way abnormal or unexpected to see this much commercial culture surrounding the holiday. In fact, this overdone advertising is cherished by Generation Z. For us, it’s what makes the holiday season magical.

What makes us recognize that the beginning of the holiday season is upon us isn't the trip over the river and through the woods to our grandparents’ house. Instead, it’s the latte we purchase at Starbucks, served in one of their trademark red cups. The material item serves as our reminder.

My parents will be fully introduced to this year's holiday when they reconnect with the people and traditions that bring forth their own personal love and nostalgia. On the other hand, my brother and I were brought into the holiday spirit on the day before Thanksgiving, when a commercial centered around a Christmas tree interrupted our college football game. And although we thought it was annoying and pretty laughable that a Christmas commercial was on so far in advance of the holiday, the advertisement quickly brought us to a state of awareness and anticipation of our long-awaited winter break.

A couple of weeks after that way-too-early Christmas commercial, I walked to Starbucks in the cold. When I ordered my coffee, it came in a red paper cup decorated joyfully with an artfully-drawn reindeer. Low and behold, I felt myself smile. Like it or not, this materialism is what defines the holiday season for Generation Z.

- Max Walker, Josh Miller

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