Deck the halls with love and kindness: Be present this holiday season

Caitlyn Hansbury, Opinions Manager

Dec. 1 has come and gone which means that we are officially in the middle of the holiday season. This is a time of year to be with family, friends and other loved ones, regardless of religion, politics and what holiday you celebrate. 

Despite this joyous time of year, one thing that we tend to get wrapped up in is gift giving. Gift giving is one way we show the people in our lives how much they mean to us. However, many people seem to forget the true meaning of this time of year and get caught up in shopping and material items. A perfect example of this is Black Friday. As we all know, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where many stores offer discounts, door-buster deals and flexible hours to promote the beginning of the holiday shopping season. 

On Black Friday, many Americans seem to go crazy over the sales and opportunities for discounted goods. They seem to forget that just the previous day, we were sitting around a table to celebrate being thankful for everything and everyone that we have as parts of our lives. 

The holiday season is about so much more than material goods. It is about being with friends and family and being grateful for what we have — in both a material and nonmaterial sense. Money does not buy everything, and it certainly does not buy happiness. 

This year, I challenge you. Try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, and give back to those in need. Volunteer at a local shelter, pick up an extra gift for donation either through Toys for Tots or a local giving tree. Take time to appreciate all the nonmaterial things in your life such as good health, food security and a stable living situation. Enjoy the company of your friends and family and be present.