A season without packages, boxes or bags

Before people could finish saying “trick-or-treat,” ornaments, wreaths and tinsel filled stores everywhere, marking the beginning of the holiday season. Stores marketed their special holiday sales before children finished their last pieces of Halloween candy.

Every year, it seems the urgency to start the holiday season becomes greater. Consumerism rears its ugly head as people stress about how to buy the biggest gifts for people in a seemingly ungrateful society.

A big mistake we make as a nation is forgetting why holidays exist in the first place. They commemorate a special occasion or event and often pay homage to a worthy person or group of people. As we celebrate holidays, we should attempt to embody the attitudes those holidays represent.

During the bustle of the winter season, do we stop to think about the meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of the Christian religion. His arrival to earth was supposed to ensure the peace and equality of all mankind.

Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday in honor of the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem. This rededication of the Temple was a sign of hope for better things to come.

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture that honors the African-American family and community. Each year, those who celebrate Kwanzaa renew their faith in themselves and in humanity.

It is discouraging that holidays with such inspiring messages are so trivialized and commercialized by such a greedy society. There is something encouraging about the messages of never-ending peace and hope that these holidays portray, even for those who do not practice their corresponding religions.

The holiday season is also a time to appreciate the diversity that allows such holidays to co-exist in one nation. It is important that we not take for granted the importance of any religion or any holiday.

Sometimes, people treat Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as though they are a commercial accessory to Christmas and can be packaged as a “three-for-one” deal. Those who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, or choose not to celebrate a winter holiday at all, should not have to feel as though their traditions are any less significant than those who celebrate Christmas.

Most of all, we want to remind you not to take anything you have for granted during the holidays. Many get wrapped up in receiving presents and forget about those who are in need. Soup kitchens, shelters and clothing drives could use extra volunteers during a time when some cannot afford to help themselves or their loved ones. Give an extra hour or two of time to the less fortunate.

Take time to remember the important things in life that do not come wrapped in shiny paper. When dollar signs determine the level of our happiness, we need to reevaluate our priorities. Moments we spend with those we love are the type of gifts that are priceless.

Even though Halloween seems to be immediately followed by Christmas these days, let’s not forget the spirit of Thanksgiving.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.