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Some choose family, traditions over shopping

November 25, 2013 3:00PM

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Denise Bertoncino displays some of the special ornaments that will grace her family's Christmas tree.

Despite the hype and advertising, not everyone will be lining up to get big bargains on Thanksgiving Day. Denise Bertoncino, associate professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Pittsburg State University, counts herself among many Americans who believe the annual shopping frenzy has gotten out of hand.

After sharing Thanksgiving with family, Bertoncino said, she turns her attention to putting up the Christmas tree.

“The Christmas tree is special for us, and we put it up the day after Thanksgiving,” said Bertoncino, who teaches interior design courses at PSU.

The tree has particular meaning, she said, because it is decorated with ornaments that recall fond memories, starting with the angel atop the tree that she remembers from her childhood.

“My Christmas tree is filled with ornaments that are all sentimental,” Bertoncino said. “There are ornaments from all of the places we have traveled, things my children have made, ornaments with their pictures from their school, gifts from people that know me and know just what I like, plus my best friend and my mother have given my children an ornament every year since they were born.”

The process of decorating the tree is one she shares with her children, now 15 and 9.

“We turn on the Christmas music, have hot chocolate, and reminisce about where the ornaments came from each time we take one out of a box. It is a day that I cherish,” Bertoncino said.

She said she believes that when her children are grown, they will have warm memories of their family’s holiday traditions and the time they spent together, but aren’t likely to recall the latest toys or gadgets.

Amber Tankersley, who is also an associate professor in Family and Consumer Sciences at PSU, thinks Bertoncino is on to something. Tankersley, who is director of the PSU Preschool lab, said the holidays can be stressful for children and parents alike and anything that can be done to simplify and personalize the experience is positive.

“Kids are easily overwhelmed by all the different activities that go on between Thanksgiving and New Year's,” Tankersley said. “My suggestion for parents is to try to keep children's routines and schedules as close to normal as possible to avoid the holiday overload.”

The holidays provide an opportunity for parents to teach their children some important lessons about giving, Tankersley said.

“I like to have children help find a way to give back either by collecting food, clothes, etc., for those who might be in need,” Tankersley said. “It is a nice lesson to teach children to help those in need.”

For her own family, Tankersley said, she tried to make the giving a personal experience.

“I used to take my kids when they were little to an Angel tree to choose a child from the tree that was the same age and gender,” Tankersley said. “That way my kids picked out something for someone like themselves.”

©2013 Pittsburg State University