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Presence of presents overwhelms the meaning of the holiday season

Guest Columnby cristina gair

Every year at Christmas I start to wonder if Americans have gone mad. The frenzy of shopping, activity, and overall craziness makes me want to move to another country. Then I start to get in the spirit no not through listening to Christmas music, but through seeing what those who are fortunate do for others.Working at a nonprofit agency, Family Visitor Programs, I get to witness the adoption of families to ensure they have a happy Christmas morning; and individuals, groups and entire classrooms of children who give of themselves and buy presents for those who would otherwise go without.So I can’t moan as much about how Christmas has become materialistic. And how kids today are getting bigger and better presents at the age of 10. At some point what do you have to look forward to if you’ve already been given your heart’s desire as a preteen?For comfort at this time of year I head to http://www.newdream.org, which is the Web site for The Center for a New American Dream, an organization that helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. Then I question whether maybe, just maybe, Christmas has become more about presents and gifts and less about spending time with those you love.According to a newdream.org poll, “a majority of Americans say that spending more time with family and friends and having less stress in their lives would make them more satisfied.” If this is true, why does the holiday season seem to revolve around shopping?OK, I have to admit that I do like to shop for others at Christmas, and I did go shopping in Denver with my aunt on the second weekend of December. The mall was so crowded I just wanted to leave after purchasing two presents for my nephews. A sweet teenager came up to me to make sure I was okay since I looked so sad, probably because I was in the crowded mall, and I couldn’t find my aunt. I eventually made it out of the mall, but then and there I decided if I couldn’t buy it online or during off hours or in a small shop in downtown Glenwood, then it wasn’t going to be bought.And I am trying to make some gifts ranging from jewelry to framing my own photos. The problem with those gifts is finding the time to get them finished before the big day. In another recent New Dream survey “more than four in five Americans said our society is too focused on shopping and spending.”Then I met a local Glenwood Springs shopper who made me realize some people just love to shop and get presents for others. Her name is Judy Tirpack, school librarian and Peak Teacher at Sopris Elementary. “Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday,” Tirpack said. “I especially love buying for the kids.”And buy for children she does. She buys for 15 children, not children of her own, mind you, but family and friends’ kids. She shops in downtown Glenwood – Tirpack was browsing in Summit Canyon. She shops online, in Grand Junction, at craft fairs and all over. And Tirpack’s not necessarily a bargain shopper, looking for the best deal, but instead “looks for the right present for the right person.”I can’t fault her for wanting to shop and give gifts to those she cares about. And her enthusiasm makes you realize that for some people it’s truly fulfilling.I guess my wish is that we could all just simplify the holidays. Less baking, which equals less sugar. Less presents, but maybe getting that special one that has true meaning. The best Christmas present I ever got was a really great camera that since I received it has traveled around the world with me.And maybe just spending time with loved ones would suffice. I asked a 12-year-old girl from Silt what she wanted for Christmas and she didn’t know. It seems her family doesn’t own a television, and so she doesn’t want the latest, greatest toys that marketing has to offer. How refreshing not knowing what you want for Christmas. And maybe just spending time with loved ones would suffice. I asked a 12-year-old girl from Silt what she wanted for Christmas and she didn’t know. It seems her family doesn’t own a television, and so she doesn’t want the latest, greatest toys that marketing has to offer. How refreshing not knowing what you want for Christmas.


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