Christmas is only a few short days away, and many of us will spend those days tiring ourselves out, rushing around and trying to finish up the last of our shopping, baking, wrapping and planning for our various traditions and celebrations.
I don't have my shopping finished. I didn't even send out any Christmas cards until Friday, and I just know there are several people I missed for one reason or another.
We didn't even get our tree up until about a week ago, haven't gone to any local holiday festivities and few decorations have been put up around the house.
But, while it's always nice to be able to have all the modern glitz and glamour of this season, I also know that's not all there is to this time of the year.
It's nice to be able to take a drive and see one of the local light displays (I like Oglebay best, but Clinton is nice too), have the house covered in lights, ribbons and various other festive decorations, the house smelling of fresh cookies and the rustling of bags and wrapping paper being heard from every corner.
However, it's not necessary to celebrate Christmas, and it's OK if some of those things are missing, because not everyone gets to experience them.
I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have what I've been given over the years.
I am, by no means rich. I have to watch things and save up for any of the extras. And, that's OK with me.
At the same time, I know there are those who have more. Most importantly, there are many who have much less.
While many of us are trying to figure out
There are going to be families in our own communities who won't have the big dinner. There are those who might not be able to exchange gifts or even have a tree. There are those who possibly won't even have a home to gather and celebrate.
There are people who won't be home for Christmas and won't get to see their families.
The point is, Christmas isn't supposed to be about winning contests or trying to find the latest toy or gadget to make our lives easier.
Those things are nice, but let's face it, we've made it this far without them so waiting a few extra months won't hurt.
Instead of getting your kids a new flatscreen TV now, for example, maybe think about buying a few toys to donate to one of our local groups who help provide for those in need.
They will still be making televisions next month.
Maybe donate some non-perishable foods to a food pantry to help provide a holiday meal for someone else.
There are groups in our area who collect donations to send Christmas cards and a few gifts or essential living items to our military forces serving overseas.
Remember we have many men and women who are out there protecting the rest of the world who won't even get the chance to speak to their families this Christmas. Meanwhile, we might be sitting at home trying to figure out which movie to watch.
Christmas is, as has been said, about spreading the message of peace and goodwill. It's a message we all should try to follow throughout the year, but sometimes tend to forget as we get wrapped up in those things we think we have to have to be happy.
I won't get to see any big light displays before Wednesday. I don't anticipate opening very many gifts. There aren't really any new Christmas movies out this year, and we didn't go see any local plays.
But that's fine. It will still be Christmas even without those things.
Ultimately, while it's nice to be able to have that big meal spread out before us, have piles of cookies, receive that new items we "really wanted" but didn't really need, or to spend hours planning and displaying those big lights and holiday decorations, those aren't the things that make the Christmas holiday special.
The important thing is to be able to spend time with those you love and enjoy this time, full well knowing while we might not have some of those things we want, we have what truly matters.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)