There’s something to be said for doing your Christmas shopping a day or two before Dec. 25th. I started — and finished — my Christmas shopping on Monday; I only have a couple of people to buy for, and I knew what I wanted to buy before I entered the mall.

Needless to say, the store — Sears — was packed with customers, and it was nice to see so many people shopping not for themselves, but for others. I can’t say that I saw a look of panic or frustration in anyone’s eyes. And it was  particularly nice to see so many guys shopping for women’s clothes and jewelry, many of whom looked they don’t get to those particular departments often.

It occurred to me that some, if not all, of them were there not so much out of a sense of duty, but out of genuine love (to lesser or greater degrees) . . . and I realized that, yes, Christmas is an exercise in commercialism, but beneath it, it really is about the thought that counts. And the effort . . .

When we open a gift on Christmas Day, we should see more than the item itself. We should remember that the giver probably made a journey to the mall, perhaps searched for a parking spot, browsed in foreign areas of departments stores, perhaps asked a sales person for assistance, then stood in a lineup at the cash register, then sat in the traffic lineup leaving the mall . . . you get the picture.

Thought and effort are part and parcel of a gift. They really are more important than the gift itself. And therein lies the triumph of Christmas over commercialism.