Forget presents, what matters during the holidays are your relationships.
Another Black Friday has come and gone. Except this year Black Friday started on Thanksgiving for many retailers. Some stores didn't even bother to close on Thanksgiving, and pretty much all of them opened at obscenely early hours on Friday. And that's not to mention Cyber Monday. (And who still uses the term "cyber" anyway?) And while I'm as an ardent a capitalist as you're likely to find, the commercialization of the holiday season is just a little troubling. At this rate, people will start having their Thanksgiving turkey dinners while waiting in line at the local Buy More.
While I'm veering dangerously towards being one of those cliched columnists whining about how crass and commercial the holidays have become, the holidays really have become crass and commercial. The holidays aren't about a mad rush to buy that discount Blu-Ray player while trampling everyone in your path. It's not about cheap TVs, toys filled with the finest Chinese coal byproducts, and it's certainly not about going to Jared. All those things are distractions from what really matters.
Especially now, in a time when millions across the country are struggling, it's more important than ever that we recognize that holiday season means something deeper than just presents under a tree. The holidays are a time for celebrating the little things that really matter. The comfort of family, the joy of friendship, the million tiny blessings we've had during the year. All the trappings of the season, the turkey dinners, the Christmas trees, the carols, and the presents—all of those things are just window dressing. The substance of the season is about things that last far longer than presents: your relationships.
It's easy to get caught up in the holiday rush and lose sight of what really matters. No wonder so many people feel so stressed during what should be one of the best times of the year. But ultimately, what matters most isn't getting the best deal, it's taking time out from our busy lives and celebrating with friends and family. So, while it may be a cliche, it's still true. The holidays aren't about commercialism, they're about being thankful for what we have. This is a season for miracles, big and small—the birth of a savior, an oil lamp that burned for eight days, and the love of family. And the best part is that those things don't require you to stand in line in the cold at three in the morning on a Friday.