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The Daily Illini

Don’t lose sight of what’s important this Christmas

Colleen Romano

Colleen Romano

By Lucas Oswald, Colmnist

It’s the start of December, and if you’re anything like me, you’re freaking out. Christmas lurks around the corner, and you have no idea what to get your mom and dad. It’s the thought that counts, so they say. But what if your thought is wrong?

Around this time every year, malls and stores are flooded with holiday shoppers all in search of the latest Disney plush toys for their young children or that sweater all their daughters’ cool friends wear, or even the one swan statue Grandma doesn’t have, but needs, on her lawn.

But in reality, this shouldn’t be a major concern. Christmas isn’t about spending hours trying to find the perfect thing to buy for our loved ones. Things are just that: things. We all live in big things that are filled to the top with even more things, and yet, we can’t get enough things.

The Christmas holiday has become little more than a day to celebrate greed and materialism. Last year, holiday spending exceeded $655.8 billion in the U.S. alone, and this year, the number is expected to reach $682 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch. I like giving and receiving gifts as much as the next Who in Whoville. But really, gift-giving among family and friends should be of secondary importance during the holidays. We cannot lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas: the time spent with those we love and the generosity that is supposed to swirl in the air, coating everything like a fresh blanket of snow.

Generosity isn’t giving your daughter a $1,000 iPad. Genuine generosity is giving to those who have nothing, not because they have any relation to you and not because they “deserve” it, but simply because you have and they have not. Generosity is the “Christmas magic” we all hear about. It’s what allows the big man in the red suit to squeeze down all of those chimneys around the globe, and it’s what makes the holiday so powerful.

The purpose of Christmas is to make the life of someone other than yourself better, to give to those who truly, painfully want the things we take for granted. It should remind us that we are not the only people in this world. Let’s think: Does gifting Rebecca a $1,000 iPad just because Christians hundreds of years ago decided to celebrate Jesus’ birth a few months late really reflect the values of Christmas?

Each of us holds the power to make Christmas special for those in need. Volunteer at a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve, ring the bell for the Salvation Army or donate presents to children. There are opportunities for you to keep the Christmas magic alive, and as I struggle to practice what I’m preaching, I hope you will find a cause worthy of your support, too.

Lucas is a sophomore in Engineering.

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