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Shopping violence shouldn't be part of season of peace
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I have a radio in my office that displays the names of the songs that are playing on the radio. One day this week, I had the sound turned off but the song titles were still there.

I was on the phone and I looked over and saw that Andy Williams' version of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was playing. It made me smile. First, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Williams a few years ago and I was glad he was back on the radio. Second, I like that song.

Unfortunately, we have succeeded in making the sentiment of the song virtually untrue.

My wife and I had a simultaneous loss of presence of mind on Thanksgiving night and decided to venture out into the world of would-be Christmas bargains. I guess that should be "holiday" bargains, so as not to offend the non-Christmas people.

We wandered into the land of pushing, shoving and wall-to-wall shopping carts. After a few minutes, I looked at her and said, "Is there anything we need this badly?" She said no and we left.

The news accounts of what happened during the open salvo of the Christmas war was disturbing. Folks were struck by fists, pepper spray and bullets in scuffles over Christmas presents. That's just wrong.

Whether you believe in him or not, Jesus Christ, the namesake of the holiday, was all about peace. He came into the world to show God's love. The original intent of Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Christ. The giving of gifts comes from the gifts that were given by the wise men or magi.

The key word here is "wise." Someone will have to show me the wisdom of camping out for days to buy a cheap TV. I preferred the opportunity to spend time with family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner. At no time did I think about spending the day in a tent with limited facilities.

The retail business is tough. The next month will decide whether some stores will be around for 2012. I want them to succeed, but couldn't they wait six hours until the morning after Thanksgiving? If the numbers were really good, you can bet that next year some company will move their opening to 6 p.m. and then 3 p.m. and then noon. Finally, we will base our Thanksgiving shopping on who is offering free turkey sandwiches or serving breakfast.

I have picked up a few shopping bargains, but I waited until I didn't have to stand with people pushing and shoving behind me. Giving gifts should be a joyful experience. There is no joy in fighting with someone over a sweater or a widget, no matter the value.

I've reached that point in life that the greatest part of holidays is family. I don't need another tie, pair of socks or bottle of cologne. Having those you love around you is a wonderful gift. We had a wonderful time with all sorts of fancy food. I could have been just as happy with a baloney sandwich if everyone was there.

It can be the most wonderful time of year and it doesn't require a laptop, flat screen TV or a video gaming system.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on Sunday Life and at

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