It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .

Lisa Dumontier

Okay, so the snow hasn’t even flown yet (well, it’s flown but it hasn’t exactly landed) and Halloween is still more than a week away and yet, the Christmas season propaganda is already making it’s way to shelves at a store near you. It starts small with gift cards wishing happy holidays, red and green socks featuring Santa Claus and his bevy of elves, and LED flashing lights to adorn your front door but before you know it, it’s like the spirit if the holidays exploded down aisle 14 and you’re forced to navigate past life-sized blow-up penguins and crates of wrapping paper leaned up against the wall.

I thought there was some kind of a merchandising code of ethics or something that prohibited the placement of holiday items until after the Halloween season had passed. I’ve even grown accustomed to expect that every piece of evidence of October’s ghostly spirit night be MIA come November 1st when the childhood threat “Santa is watching” rolls into full effect and the radio starts playing “Jingle Bells” on repeat for hours on end.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . isn’t it?

Believe it or not, I actually love Christmas. I have since I was a child—although if you ask my parents they’ll tell you that there was rarely a December 25th in our house where I actually possessed any sort of holiday spirit. Even as an adult, I really do enjoy decking the halls, the excitement of heading to bed on Christmas Eve wondering what the next morning has in store for me, and the thrill of picking out that perfect present and then watching its recipient fall in love with the item just as I had imagined they would.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the whole “gift giving” process in decidedly new terms. This likely has a lot to do with having children and the subsequent over spending that has happened for the last three years where gifts and packages have sat unused and unloved merely as a result of excess. Yes, despite my best efforts and careful planning, I’ve been hit hard by the holiday sales and marketing techniques and have veered away from my scaled down gift-giving list purchasing a multitude of things that nobody really needs—especially in duplicate.

This year, with the stores already hinting that December 25th is just around the corner, I’m taking a new approach to holiday gift giving. Namely, I’m scaling back to remember what the holiday season is really about. There will be gift giving but my husband and I have decided that our daughters will be receiving primarily hand-made gifts this year. Thankfully he has a garage full of tools that can be put to good use and I’m not too shabby with the sewing machine so this is a realistic feat for us. We will be purchasing some items of course as Dora animation is definitely not my strong suit.

Additionally, there are a lot of opportunities in this community to give back to those who have a greater need. Whether it be picking out the perfect gift to donate to the Christmas Cheer Board for children who may go without, to helping out with the area’s holiday food hamper deliveries, donating non-perishable food items to the Red Lake Family Food Bank or picking up a shoebox to fill with goodies to be sent overseas via Operation Christmas Child, there are so many ways to instil in our children (and take note of ourselves) what it really means to possess the holiday spirit. I’m planning to take full advantage of this and I would encourage you all to do the same.

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