Friday, November 27, 2009

Let's Make It a "Good" Christmas and Hanukah

Kmart, Walmart, Gap, Banana Republic, among others: all open for business Thanksgiving Day, according to my local paper. Right below the story on the pre-Black Friday rush - an article on food pantries seeing record demand.

The day of dietary excess is always followed by a day of materialistic excess, but now they seem to be on the same day. I once heard the saying, "It's not a bargain if you don't need it." A simple yet powerful mantra to reflect on. No doorbusters for me today, only busting the myth that over-spending and shopping need to be part of a holiday.

"We've become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy," The Chicago Tribune lamented on Christmas Eve 1986. This statement can just as easily and accurately be invoked in 2009.

Even two years after Ben Stein reflected on what makes a "good" Christmas or Hanukah, his sentiments seem as relevant as ever, and creates clarity on what really matters most.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Says Stein:

"Maybe a good Christmas for this most blessed of nations would be when we as a nation and as communities made sure the homeless had a warm, safe place to sleep.

Maybe a good Christmas would not be about buying your kids the latest gizmo for listening to obscene lyrics, but about teaching them that if they are fortunate enough to have extra time or extra money, they can help out at the old age home or at the local animal shelter.

Maybe a good time would not be buying your parents sweaters they will never use, but taking a trip to see them and telling them how much you appreciate that they spent the heart of their lives taking care of you, feeding you, teaching you, putting a roof over your head, warming you with their love and concern.

Maybe the best time of all would be telling your husband or your wife or love partner that you would be lost without him or her and that you're sorry for the selfish things you did that year, and you'll be better next year.

Christmas and Hanukah presents rarely fit and rarely are to your taste. They sit in your closet and collect dust forever.

But gifts in this special, sacred time of love and caring to your family, your friends, and your neighborhood - those are never forgotten. They bring peace of mind for years."

Read the full commentary.

Find a local food bank through Feeding America. In Northern New Jersey, donate to the Center for Food Action.

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