Opinion: Holidays should focus on enjoying special moments

The end of the semester is an overwhelming time for students. With papers to write, projects to present, exams to cram for, and parties to attend, our schedules are booked to the brim–except there's more.

By the evergreens, haphazard light arrangements, and eighty-degree weather it is evident: Christmas is upon us all.

With the holidays, I find myself gently humming Christmas songs and considering the propriety of buying my entire family gifts from the TCU bookstore for the fourth year in a row. I am baffled as I consider presents for siblings I have known almost my entire life. And the more I stress over whether a spatula is a good gift or not–it isn't–the more I come to see that I'm going about this "holiday thing" entirely the wrong way.

Our modern Christmas season is choked by an endless cacophony of commercials insisting that vacuum cleaners, Transformers, and pearl necklaces are the embodiment of the holiday spirit. Instead of enjoying time with family and friends, we are wracked with doubt over what to give these people and whether they will think less of us if our gift isn't "the right one."

They say Christmas is a consumerist holiday, but it seems to me that consumers are not really enjoying themselves all that much. It seems that in our rush to buy gifts and plan parties, many of us (myself included) have fallen into a "Christmas Trap."

The "Christmas Trap" is a stress-inducing and pressing belief that a good holiday must involve the best presents credit cards can buy. We think we must have decorations and lights and trees and presents or else…well…the whole season will have been a waste.

We, who are caught up in this mess, worry less about the celebration of the holiday and more about the objects that make it sparkle–like worrying about the icing instead of the cake. People spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars buying a feeling that exists free of charge.

Cliché as it may sound, it is worth noting that the "Christmas spirit" is far more than glittering gifts and Santa decorations; and I think that with a little self-examination many of us will find that faith, family, and friends are worth more to us than all the presents money can buy.

When we think of Christmas, we think of sitting with family around a crackling fireplace enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. We think of holiday parties and gift exchanges with our friends. We imagine bellowing carols at mass and warmly wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas."

You can remove the ornaments, adornments, and presents, but the things that matter most are still there. You can still eat a cake without any icing.

With the holidays a few weeks a way, I propose we put down those horrifying sweaters, cancel our traumatic trips to the mall, and enjoy the things that make this season truly special.

Merry Christmas.

Brendan McNeal is a senior history major from Boulder, Colo.