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Mindfulness and Commercialism: A Coca-Cola Christmas

By Maya Talisman Frost

It's Christmas time here in Mazatlan, Mexico.

I can tell by the Coca-Cola Christmas tree in the

plaza facing the cathedral.

In fact, last Friday must have been St. Coca-Cola

Day or something. At sunset, we heard a

commotion. Nothing too unusual about that--

there's always some sort of celebration going on.

I figured it was part of the presentation of the

Carnaval princesses going on in the other local


We went to the roof to look down the street

and saw a procession of red vehicles of various

sizes emblazoned with the Coca-Cola logo. From

convertibles and the backs of pick-ups, lovely

misses dressed as Santa's helpers waved

to passersby. The thumping bass reverberated

off store windows along the street. A blaring

loudspeaker invited everyone to follow the

parade to the Coca-Cola Christmas celebration.

The final fire-engine red vehicle carried Santa

himself, who was perched merrily on several

cases of--what else?--Coca-Cola.

A visit to the plaza later revealed a 30-foot

artificial tree all dressed up for a Coca-Cola

Christmas. The ornaments consisted of glittery

round disks with the familiar logo. A few

six-foot-tall inflatable Coca-Cola cans flanked

a red-bannered stage where ten-year-olds took

turns singing pop favorites.

Everyone was bopping and enjoying the

festivities which concluded with the

Coca-Cola Christmas fireworks display.

Now, back in the States, this type of blatant

commercialism of Christmas would bring jeers

and eye-rolling and perhaps even a few

demonstrators. After all, we parents formed

groups protesting the availability and

promotion of Coke products in our kids'

school lunch rooms. We railed against

the corporate irresponsibility of a company

so clearly contributing to the increased

rates of diabetes and obesity in children.

But here, it's just another reason to celebrate.

If Coke wants to sponsor a parade and a

fireworks display, that seems perfectly fine

with people here. they'll dance to whatever's

playing and enjoy it without getting too hung

up on the politics.

I had to check my cynicism at the door. That's

mindfulness in action--recognizing our

knee-jerk reactions as simply choices we make

about responding in a certain way. We can

choose to respond differently, but first we

need to SEE our conditioned response.

Hmmm. Fire up my outrage or ooh and aah

at the fireworks? I get to choose.

I can be offended. Or, I can just take

it as another absurdity in my day and smile at

the kids belting out ballads on the stage and the

parents dancing with toddlers in the plaza.

It might be "wrong" to enjoy a Coca-Cola parade

or celebrate singing children on a Coca-Cola

stage, but from where I sit, it doesn't feel like

blatant commercialism as much as it feels like

a spontaneous party.

Sure, it's tacky. But it's also surprisingly joyful.

Those smiles were not the result of Coca-Cola--

they were just an expression of happiness

prompted by an unexpected celebration.

And that's the real thing.

About The Author
Maya Talisman Frost has taught thousands of people how to pay attention. Her playful, eyes-wide-open approach to everyday mindfulness has been featured in over 150 publications worldwide. To read her tips and tricks for practical awareness, visit

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