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There should be more to Christmas than gifts

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Added: Fri, 01/15/2016 - 3:01pm
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Hello again dear readers! As the Pontiac Journal returns from our annual holiday season reprieve, I hope everyone enjoyed the seasonal festivities and I wish everyone a happy and fruitful 2016.
This Christmas, as family sat around the Christmas tree at my parents’ house, my uncle told the story of a discussion he had with one of his work colleagues in Ottawa; he had asked the woman what her plans were for Christmas. The women – a wife and mother of five
children who was frustrated by the mass commercialization engulfing Christmas – said she and her family would not be holding a traditional Christmas. There would be no gifts, or elaborate turkey dinners. Instead, she and her family
elected to spend Christmas volunteering at local homeless shelters and soup kitchens helping those in need.
Reflecting on the family’s altruism, kindness, and selflessness, I couldn’t help but direct my attention to the Christmas tree in the corner of the room. With brightly wrapped boxes exploding from underneath it, I worried this could be the image my son envisions when he is older and is asked about the meaning of Christmas. How can it be prevented?
Christmas is what we make it. It’s
easy to be drawn into the materialistic aspect of the holiday. Mass marketing
campaigns are largely to blame, but in order for future generations to abandon the materialistic view of Christmas, older generations must lay it to rest as well. We need to abandon the notion – even if it
is mostly unconscious – that love,
happiness, joy, and appreciation come in, or are expressed in the form of gifts, sometimes several, wrapped in colourful paper.
Christmas is about getting together with family and friends, being kind to others and helping those in need. Abandoning a traditional Christmas
altogether like the woman in my Uncle’s story is not the only solution to
‘reclaiming’ Christmas and teaching
children what the holiday is really about. There are other less extreme examples. 
Bouffe Pontiac and other Pontiac groups organize many events to help the needy during the Christmas season and are always looking for volunteers. As a family, why not devote some spare time? Or perhaps have the children participate in donating to an Angel Tree. Or even help a neighbour shovel their driveway. There are so many examples to illustrate that there is more to the Christmas
season than giving and receiving gifts. 
Simple gestures can have a large impact and serve as valuable lessons for little ones, lessons that certainly can’t be purchased, wrapped, or mailed in cards.
Allyson Beauregard