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Looking beyond the bounty at the bottom of a tree

Black Friday again marked the beginning of the holiday season, a time during which people indulge themselves in that greatest of consumer pleasures: shopping.

During the holidays, individuals surrender their humanity to the material appeals of the season. Though self-indulgent materialism appears to be the underlying philosophy in this most recent incarnation of the season, it is a far cry from the season's noble origins.

For thousands of years, the beginning of winter has marked the end of the harvest, and has served as a time of renewal in the natural world, as well as a time for spiritual renewal.

Lately however, it seems that these traditions, like many before them, have fallen victim to the zeitgeist of consumerism which has been propagated by corporate America. What was once a time for a cleansing and renewal of the spirit has been exploited as an opportunity for a cleansing of the pocketbook.

This shameless exploitation of the season serves not only to cheapen the principles which truly define the season, but also to perpetuate a mentality of egocentrism, from which the season was to be a respite.

If we truly view the holiday season as a special time of year, and not as just another opportunity to play out our consumerist fantasies, we should make a concerted effort to return the spirit of the season to its origins. Let the philosophy of peace on earth and goodwill toward all people, once again define the holiday season.

This year, instead of immersing yourself in the commercial aspects of the season, break free from the superficial material culture, and use the time of year as an opportunity to re-envision the holidays, by looking introspectively and looking to lend a hand, instead of simply looking under the tree.

Quinn Bailey is a senior at Forest Grove High School. This column is reprinted, with permission, from the December issue of the Viking Log, where Bailey serves as copy editor.