Appreciation is defined as the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. But, it seems most people today abuse this word rather than appreciate it (a clever play on words I know). We don’t appreciate the things we have, rather we crave for something more than we “need.” I’m guilty of this just like everyone else, always thinking of the new pair of boots we MUST HAVE for the winter or the new Michael Kors purse that is TO DIE FOR. We place so much value on material items that we think we “need” to be happy, that we often look past the blessings and wonders that are right in front of us.
Although at certain times in life they often seem like they can, materialistic items cannot make one truly content. Of course, you can be excited to show off your new sweater to your friends at class on Monday, or show off your new phone case that has a compartment for your debit card to your roommate, but do those things actually matter to the well being of your life? Absolutely not.
Placing so much worth on consumerist goods has caused our society to become greedy, self-centered, and most importantly unappreciative. Immediately trying on your new Nike tennis shoes suddenly becomes more important than even thanking the person that gave them to you. The amount of presents under the tree on Christmas morning suddenly becomes more important than simply cherishing that time of joy with your family. The vast amount of food you have on your table on Thanksgiving Day suddenly makes you forget about the family in your neighborhood, just a couple houses down, that is struggling with money and probably can’t afford to make a meal like yours. We think about ourselves, we focus on ourselves, and we tend to appreciate only ourselves.
Now, this greedy epidemic is not entirely our own fault. The generations before us shifted to a more self-centered culture years ago, and the generations to come after us will unfortunately probably be quite worse. Additionally, being greedy occasionally, treating yourself, and focusing on yourself does not make you a bad person. Focusing on yourself to establish your own passions and goals can actually be quite a good thing. So, I am not writing this to bash our generation, I am writing this to simply remind people to show appreciation in any way that they can.
Live more in the moment with the people you are surrounded with rather than dwelling on the future and what's to come. Spend Christmas morning with your parents and siblings talking and listening to holiday music rather than jumping right into opening the presents under the tree. And on New Year's Eve, have your closest friends over to your house for food to watch the ball drop rather than going out to some elaborate party. This way you can actually appreciate spending time with the people that mean the most to you (and remember it better too lol).
My challenge to you, and to myself, especially this holiday season, is take pride in appreciating the people and blessings that you already have. Focus on your mom, your dad, your step-sister, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Spend more time focusing on the actual people you have in your life that make you happy, rather than on the materialistic items you have that you think make you happy. By learning to truly appreciate and show gratitude towards the things that really matter, you will learn, as I still am, that instead of the bracelet your mom wants for Christmas or the scarf your grandma won’t stop talking about, the perfect gift for them will not come wrapped in a box with a bow on top, because appreciation could very well be the greatest gift you could ever give.