“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

Increasingly I am sickened by the materialism that has consumed the holiday season. Haha, big words. In all sincerity though, since when is Christmas about what you’re getting? Why do so many people rush to the tree in the morning? I, for one, always enjoyed the experience of opening presents far more than the contents of the package. Something about ripping open a package is just enjoyable.

These days, however, I value other things. Giving, for one. My favorite thing about Christmas is the opportunity to express appreciation for the important people in my life with the perfect gift. It doesn’t have to be something expensive, though I have been known to spend entirely too much money. I just like putting thought into things and seeing the joy on their faces. I’m beginning to understand the happiness in giving to strangers, too. Those who are less fortunate, those who could use a little something to brighten their holidays. The opportunity to give is something I’m grateful for this time of the year. I’m not rich, I am a college student after all. But I believe in this concept of living with enough. You can always give some, even if it is just a little. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the one in need of that extra something.

In light of recent events, I was really grateful for the opportunity to spend time with family this year. Tradition used to be a huge deal in my family, we did the same thing every year. Even since traditions have changed, some things have still remained pretty standard. This year, however, we pretty much threw tradition out the window. Things were completely chaotic. There were mistaked presents, changed plans. And we laughed. We enjoyed the nonsense. It wasn’t about the gifts this year, not that it ever really is. But this year, the gifts were just a formality. What we looked forward to was spending time with the people we love. Sleeping in. Lounging around and laughing at the simplest things. A lot of people could take the situation we’re in and allow it to ruin their holidays. But we didn’t. And that was pretty great for us. It made this the best Christmas I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

So you’ll have to excuse me if I find it petty when I read all about the new things people got and how excited they are. I’m not saying I’m not grateful for what I was given–entirely too much, at that. But I’m saying that those things under the tree are just that. Things. They are not worthy of serving as my sole focus during this time of year. I have a lot that I truly loved about this Christmas, a lot that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life. That list of things that people always seem curious to know will not. It is unimportant in the grand scheme, and I don’t really care that much. I’m pretty happy for everything else. For life, for family, for who I am and where I am. I’m happy that things have turned out how they have. That my life is where it is. I’m happy that I can say this, because it’s something I’ve struggled with in the past. Most importantly, I’m happy to be  happy. To be completely happy.

This year has put a whole new spin on ‘Happy Holidays.’ I can only hope that others have been able to experience such joy.

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“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

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