Presence trumps presents

By Maddie Binning

Maddie Binning is a senior at Minnehaha Academy and Editor in Chief of the Talon Newspaper. Maddie has worked on the Talon for four years and hopes to study journalism in university. When she isn't working on the paper, Maddie is both a freelance photographer and a photographer at Lifetouch Portrait Studios. She also has a passion for reading, music and traveling.

Posted: January 8, 2014


The commercialism of Christmas has eclipsed the idea

of spending time with family and loved ones.

The Talon staff shares their opinion

regarding this clash of values. 


As Black Friday sales begin even on the day of Thanksgiving, the commercialism of Christmas has been and continues to be a long-standing issue. Customers rush to department stores trying desperately to fill Christmas with presents wrapped in bright paper while children write long lists of the toys they just can’t live without.

But these gifts can’t give children the same fond memories that baking cookies, building snowmen or sharing Christmas breakfast with their families can, and senior Rachel McNamara can attest to this.

“My family every year since my mom was a little girl gets summer sausages for Christmas morning,” said McNamara. “[We have them] with an egg bake and cinnamon rolls all on Grandma Mimi’s china. My mother’s side of the family has a large party, and we always exchange ridiculous gag gifts in a dice game that every year drags on too long.”

McNamara realized the importance of being together at Christmas as she grew older.

“I’m beginning to learn that family is something I’ve taken for granted the past couple years, particularly around the holidays,” said McNamara. “Christmas isn’t a time for cookie-cutter families to bask in one another’s perfection. It’s a time to bake cookies with the imperfect people you hold most dear.”

The importance of family tradition and time spent together is a value held by many families, even the Kennedys.

“Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism,” said Caroline Kennedy, author and daughter of former president John F. Kennedy, in an interview with Good Housekeeping.

“It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers,” said Kennedy. “But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.”

These traditions are a part of Christmas that science teacher Nancy Cripe finds very important.

“Many years ago we started having a candlelight cheesecake party, and for our family that really is Christmas,” said Cripe. “It’s a couple [of] weeks before Christmas, and we bake homemade cheesecakes and turn off all the lights and just have candles. We invite all the people we’d love to have in our family but [are] just not related to us.”

For the Cripe family and all those that attend, the commercial aspect of Christmas doesn’t affect their cheesecake festivities.

“It’s more of a time to connect with people and sit by the fire,” said Cripe. “It doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s just time for hospitality and people to get together to have some cheesecake.”

Within these simple moments is something even more important.

“[It’s] extending the presence of Christ into our world in simple but meaningful ways,” said Cripe. “It is focusing in on what is truly

important and meaningful and getting away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas [to focus] in on the people in our lives, God’s presence in our lives and catching our breath with people that we enjoy as we celebrate Christ [coming] into our world.”

Finding this focus doesn’t require a fancy party or lots of money to be spent.

“Christ came in a simple way, and at times our holidays get so busy that [it’s good] to step back,” said Cripe. “Simple is good.”

We at The Talon encourage you to continue making the sort of memories you hold dear from childhood. If you get past the commercialism and realize you’re never too old for Christmas, you may find a connection to your family and Christ this Christmas to provide you with some of your best memories. We urge you to participate in the festivities regardless of your age with an open mind and an open heart.

“You are making memories even when you don’t know you’re making memories,” said Cripe. “They’ll mean a lot more to you later, so make memories and celebrate in a way that’s meaningful and in the true spirit of Christmas. It’s more important than you know.”

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