Christmas is quickly approaching and with only 11 shopping days left, many shoppers are desperately swiping credit cards and emptying out already light wallets for last minute gifts.
Fred Meyer and Gottschalks seem to be constantly crowded with moms frantically searching through the toy aisles, men gazing down at jewelry cases with looks of confusion stricken across their faces, and everyone else moving at high speed through the aisles, careful not to make eye contact for fear of not getting out of the store alive.
I did some Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving, during the early morning sales. It was my first time taking part in such an event and frankly, I am surprised that I got out alive. My friend picked me up at 4:45 a.m. Friday morning and we headed to the first preplanned stop on our list, Fred Meyer. The parking lot was already packed when we got there. I instantly got the feeling it was much more than just shopping. It was a competition it was a matter of survival.
Upon entering the store, the first thing I noticed was most women were not only pushing one, but two shopping carts. Most of them had even dragged their husbands along for the purpose of gaining possession over yet another cart. I knew right away I did not belong there. Those women were seasoned professional shoppers, I was just a beginner.
My first near death experience that morning took place at the Tupperware bin. It was buy one get one half off or free I wasn’t entirely sure. I just know that a woman can never have enough Tupperware, so I thought they would make good presents for the Tupperware fanatics in my family. The thought was a short-lived one, unfortunately. When I made a move to grab one of the last few pieces of Tupperware, I received the dirtiest look from the nicest looking elderly lady. I stopped mid-reach, arm dropping back to my side. I broke off all eye contact with her and suddenly found the bin of fleece blankets very interesting.
She might have looked innocent and sweet, but who knows what she would have done to me had I taken the Tupperware. I wasn’t willing to find out; my opinion was that the older shoppers were the most dangerous ones.
I spent close to eight hours shopping that day and I know for a fact that it was a “first and last” kind of thing. I like to live life on the edge, but not that close to the edge.
Putting all fun aside, what was really on my mind that day and in these last few weeks is what the real meaning of Christmas is. Amidst all of the card swiping and quick visits to Wells Fargo’s drive through, the true meaning of Christmas seems to get forgotten. The big boxes and shiny wrapping paper can easily become a distraction. For me, Christmas is about the birth of a king, celebrating life and enjoying family and friends.
I will admit the beautifully decorated tree and the presents neatly piled underneath are appealing, but it is only during Christmas that my entire family can be together. There is something about such a day that all worries, conflicts, and annoyances can easily be left at the door.
The fact that we are even able to celebrate this holiday is a blessing in itself. Unlike many people in the world today, we have the freedom to choose what we celebrate, whether it is family, a break from school and work, or religion.
In 12 days from now, when families are gathering around Christmas trees and wrapping paper is being ripped to pieces, I hope we see beyond the gifts that are set in front of us and remember the ones we already have that no one could ever tie a bow around.
The true meaning of Christmas, whatever that may be to you, should not be neatly wrapped in a box, bought in a store or even ordered off of Ebay.
Whitney Brown is a senior at Kenai Central High School and a Jump Start student attending Kenai Peninsula College.
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