Each year millions of Americans rush to malls and shopping centers to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts simply because it’s December. Black Friday has been named a state holiday in Alabama. According to BlackFridayDeathCount.com, seven people were killed and 90 injured on Nov. 29. At what point did gifts become so important?

BankRate.com says in November 2011 Americans put an estimated $793 billion on credit cards alone. Just to show you exactly how much money that is, if we took that amount of money and gave it to the government every month for 21 months, the United States could completely pay off all of its debt. That’s a whole lot of money.

Religious aspects of the holidays aside, this time of year is about being with family, friends and the people you care about most. Friends and family don’t love us because of the useless stuff we wrap and put under a tree. But somehow this is the routine we have around the holidays.

Black Friday FightsThis past Black Friday, I decided to brave the madness and try to find some good deals. Everything you’ve ever heard about is true. There were fights, police, good deals and arrests. I witnessed a woman pull a gun out over $20 boots at Belk and a fist fight over an Xbox at Walmart. I spent two hours waiting in line to check out at Old Navy.

Don’t get me wrong sales are great. I’m a poor college student who loves a good deal especially on clothes. However, the means that some will resort to just to get a $99 flat screen TV are insane.

We judge the government for the way they spend their money. Yet, how do we spend ours? On a credit card. For a pair of boots we will only wear a handful of times.

Start appreciating the holidays for the true reasons we have them. Whether you are Catholic, Baptist, undecided or nonreligious, just remember the center of it all. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, the real things we have to be thankful for are not bought in a store. Maybe for once this holiday season we can cherish the people brought into our lives.