If the stores we frequent are any indication, retailers have a definite idea of how we should celebrate the 2019 holiday season.

For Thanksgiving, there’s the perfect dinner table, stocked with enough savory and sweet delights to satisfy a small army. Every dish looks like a masterpiece, created with item after item that can only be purchased new, right now, from the bakery aisle.

For Christmas, there’s the iconic ceiling-scraping tree, surrounded by a groaning mountain of presents, wrapped in glittering metallic paper. And those presents — why, they’re all the latest, must-have technology of the season, of course. High-tech, high-priced and high-interest, they’re all there to unwrap greedily on Christmas morning.

And for the entire span, there are decorations and music galore, all signaling to the world that you are part of this festive celebration, this cavalcade of fun, this parade of excess.

Pardon our French, but phooey to all of that.

This holiday season, let’s focus on the things that we can’t buy. Let’s look to the special parts of our lives that we can’t find on a store shelf or through Amazon browsing. In short, let’s focus on the special people in our lives.

Ultimately, our family and friends and the web of relationships we sustain with them, are what give our lives meaning. Think about it: Is any experience really amazing unless it’s shared? And even if your loved one wasn’t physically present when something wonderful happened, didn’t you think about them and tell them about it afterward?

These people, these special folks, are why we celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas the way that we do. We give presents not because of the present, but because of the person receiving it. We slave over a Thanksgiving meal not because of the meat or carbs, but because of the people who will be sitting around the table enjoying the bounty with us.

Let these people in your life be your guide this season.

And if they’re not supportive or loving? If they complain or argue or stomp around? Perhaps they shouldn’t be placed at the center of your celebration. It’s not for nothing that younger people have been celebrating “Friendsgiving,” when those around the Thanksgiving table are dearest friends, not potentially squabbling relations.

However you arrange your celebrations this year, put people at the center. Not things. You can buy those anytime, for any potential event. But the people you know and treasure are precious. Our time with them isn’t infinite. Hold them close this year.

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