Christmas means spending time with family: poll

NEW YORK, (Reuters Life!) - Despite the stress and commercialism of the holiday season, what most Americans enjoy most about Christmas is spending time with family and friends, according to a new poll.

Shoppers look at merchandise in the 'Toys R Us' store in New York's Time's Square, November 23, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Two-thirds of people surveyed by Harris Interactive felt their loved ones were the most important aspect of Christmas, followed far behind by parties and presents.

“You hear the grumblings every year about ‘I’ve got to spend time with my family, I’ve got to do this’ ... but this is kind of what everyone wants to think the holiday season is about,” said Regina Corso, director of polling for the firm.

Less than one in ten people said they looked forward to holiday dinners and parties, while six percent were eager to find and give gifts and four percent said they wanted to watch television specials and listen to holiday songs on the radio.

Of the 2,455 people polled in the online survey, only one percent admitted that what they looked forward to most was getting presents, while nine percent said they do were not excited about the holidays.

The poll also distinguished some small generational differences. Three-quarters of people 62 and older hope to spend time with family and friends, compared to 59 percent of 18 to 30 years olds, who were more likely to look forward to receiving gifts.

“There’s still a little of the kid in them on that end,” said Corso.

When asked to put personal feelings aside, the poll found people are split over what they think others feel about the holiday season.

Just over a third said most people believe the holidays are a chance to spend time with loved ones and celebrate traditions. The other two thirds were split between believing it’s about presents and feeling that it’s about both.

“Silent Night,” was the top Christmas song followed by “White Christmas,” “Oh Holy Night,” “Jingle Bells,” and “The Christmas Song.”

Among the holiday tunes people said they never wanted to hear again are “Jingle Bells,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

“I guess holiday songs about reindeer don’t really sit well with people,” said Corso.

She expressed surprise that the top song was a religious one and that five of the classics made it on both lists.

“It really does show we are a nation of diverse people and that goes right down to which songs we love and which songs we hate at Christmas time.”

Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Patricia Reaney