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Gift-giving fromthe heart

Reasons why Christmas is my favorite holiday:

I like watching the way all the little lights twinkle on the roofs and trees of the houses in my neighborhood; I like the fact that it’s three days after my birthday; and I also like the added bonus of not having school.

And I love the Christmas spirit. I know that makes me sound like a ridiculously cliched greeting card, but hear me out.

ZHANGI’ve been scrambling to buy all my gifts before winter break starts, so I can hand them out on time, which has already involved using up my free Amazon Prime trial so that all of my items will ship to me within two days. In all honesty, it’s stressing me out.

But isn’t that the case with most people now? We’re stressed even during Thanksgiving, and instead of utilizing it as a time of, well, thanksgiving and joy and family, we use it as a time to buy gifts in advance of Christmas. And then when Christmas rolls around, we jump onto all the sales and discounts and coupons without really thinking about what we’re losing. What about the spirit of gift-giving and the simple joy of telling people you love them and watching their faces light up?

For me, I try to alleviate the problem a little by stepping away as much as I can from the material side of me, which screams about all the money I can save if I go on a shopping spree when the holidays come. I buy all the presents I need to buy after thinking long and hard about what they should be. (That’s part of the spirit right there: thoughtful gifts instead of a quick trip to Albertsons for an array of gift cards.) From there, I jump away from all the spending as soon as I can.

I use Christmas as a time of self-reflection and appreciation for the people who love me and whom I love in return. Yes, I know that different people express themselves in different ways, but I think it’s incredibly sad when some people forget entirely to express their love to others on an occasion during which it’s perfectly okay to do so — in other words, a period of time during which actions won’t be misinterpreted and misconstrued by a hyper-aware society.

I tend to write long, sappy, rambling letters in my Christmas cards to show people how much they mean to me. Whether or not the sentiment actually makes itself known to them is debatable, but my feelings are there on paper and that’s enough for me. I also usually make the cards by hand, although this year is an exception because instead of giving gifts after break like I usually do, I’m trying to distribute them before the holiday in order to be a little more timely.

I figure that the more love that is in the world, the better the world will become. We often clutch our feelings and emotions so close to our hearts and never open up to people until they stand right next to us and breathe down our necks, but if we gave of that love and joy and passion more freely, wouldn’t that be beautiful? I want Christmas to hearken back to the days of togetherness and warmth and comfort, to gatherings around the fireplace with mugs of hot drinks and hugs all around. We’ve strayed a little from the beaten path, stepping into shiny stores with all their labels and advertisements and commercials, but I think that it won’t be hard to bring ourselves back to where we should be.

Ada Zhang, a senior at Lake Oswego High School, and she is a regular columnist for the Review. She can be reached at education@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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