In Harris Interactive poll results announced this week, a vast majority (70%) of U.S. adults say they most look forward to spending time with their family and friends when thinking about the upcoming holidays. Trailing far behind in most anticipated holiday activites are dinners and parties (7%), shopping for perfect gifts (5%), watching television specials and hearing holiday songs (4%), and getting presents (3%).
Of course, we would be wise to remember the “poll effect” and take into account that there is often a tendency for poll respondents to say what they think they SHOULD say when asked about their attitudes or preferences. In other words, I’d be willing to bet a sleighful of electronics that fewer than 70% of American adults REALLY most look forward to seeing family and friends over the holidays, and that more than 3% get most jazzed about receiving presents.
Interestingly, the older the respondent, the more likely they were to say you most look forward to spending time with friends and family for the holidays: almost three-quarters (73%) of Baby Boomers (40-58) and 79% of Matures (59 and up) say spending time with friends and family is the one thing they most look forward to in regard to the holidays – which might reinforce the notion that, for many of us, stuff is replaced by people and relationships in our hearts over time. Fittingly then, only 52% of Echo Boomers (18-27) and 65% of Gen Xers (28-39) respond the same way.
TV specials and movies have become a core element of the season, and Harris asked Americans what their favorites are: almost one-quarter (22%) said It’s a Wonderful Life, while 18% chose Miracle on 34th Street as their favorite. Cartoons were a somewhat less popular choice with How the Grinch Stole Christmas leading the pack at 12%, followed by A Charlie Brown Christmas (11%), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (10%), Frosty the Snowman (3%) and The Year Without a Santa Claus (1%).
It appears the survey was limited to these choices as a whopping 23% of all adults said none of these holiday TV specials were their favorite. They left off Santa Claus Is Coming to Town? I would also guess that a compilation of the myriad versions of the Christmas Carol/Scrooge tale (of which the Grinch is a thematic variation) might do very well also – we long to believe that the spirit of the season is transformative.