Paula Ninger: Hallmark holidays

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— We've all grown accustomed to the stores setting up for Christmas in September. But are we forgetting the true meaning of the holidays with our materialistic mindsets?

According to Brittany Salazar, 15, we think more about presents than about the real purpose of the holidays. "People don't really think about the real meaning, or about Christianity, it's kind of all about presents and possessions," she said.

She then admitted that even she gets a little caught up in the holiday fever.

"I think even my own family overdoes Christmas," Brittany said.

Corey Puffet, 15, and Hannah Beggs, 16, agreed.

"I think stores are a lot more materialized than they were in the past; people care more about a gift to get someone than about the true meaning of Christmas," Hannah said.

Another aspect of the typical "Hallmark holiday" is that stores don't represent all holidays equally. "Stores are more likely to have Christian holidays, especially Christmas, rather than others like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa," Corey commented.

Hannah agreed. "When you walk into a store you always see Christmas products, and I think it's really sad that other holidays aren't really represented," she said.

Stores are full of Christmas items. You hardly ever see anything for other holidays at this time of year - or at least, such things aren't easy to find.

Park Stegmaier, 16, said, "Unfortunately, people don't think much of other holidays. However, there are a lot of holidays besides Christmas; they shouldn't be in constant competition with one another."

So this brings up a new question: What can we do to end the materialism and focus more on quality time with friends and family?

"We need to get away from materialism. There is a fine line between what people want and what people need," Parker explained. "People care more about getting the new iPhone than they do about Jesus' birth."

It is unfortunate that we become so wrapped up in the holidays that we don't even stop to realize what their purpose was in the first place.

"It is a time for family, to be thankful and to be happy," Parker said.

During this holiday season, don't focus too much on the gift aspect. While the little plastic Santa statues at the local store may be cute, is that something you truly need in order to enjoy the holidays?

Spend time with those who really matter to you, with the people you really care about. And keep in mind that while giving and receiving gifts is fun, don't overlook the true meaning of the holiday you are celebrating.

Spread the cheer this Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Remind people how much they mean to you. And most important, enjoy the season!

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