The countdown to the holiday season is officially underway. We are now counting down to the day when malls will be adorned with lush green holly and glimmering light displays. “White Christmas”Repeatedly played over loudspeaker in departmental stores overflowing full of merchandise. Children’s faces are brightened when Santa is seen on the pavilion listening intently to wish lists.

With dwindling resources and an economy that is in turmoil, it’s better to save money than give it. Giving gifts this year is not an option. Simpler family traditions will help to keep the warmth alive.

American families can come together for holiday meals, no matter if they are eating on paper plates or on antique china. They can create coalitions to help the homeless in soup kitchens during cold winter nights. Or they can gather in the living area for a cozy night of watching their favorite seasonal TV specials.

Nielsen Media Research says “A Charlie Brown Christmas”It is one of the most popular television shows during the holiday season. In 2007, it was viewed by 13.75 millions viewers in one prime-time show. Others favorites include: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”And “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”There is one type of television that provides entertainment with a touch of historical nostalgia: the memory-jolting end of the year countdowns.

Multiple broadcast television channels have hosted countdowns at the end of each year that highlighted the year’s history in one or multiple angles. This could include the most viewed sports events, celebrity surprise moments, game show winners, fashion flops, and music. Great American Country (GAC), broadcasts its annual “Top 50 Videos”This special showcases the most popular country music videos from the year.

GAC will again bring entertainment into your living room. “Top 50 Videos of 2008,”Every night at 8 p.m., from December 29 through January 2, ET. Taylor Swift will host the countdown and highlight country music’s top music videos of the year. Country music fans have the opportunity to vote for their favorite videos. More information is available at

People can make memories that will last a lifetime by sharing simple pastimes, such as watching television countdowns together with their families, and without having to spend too much on their budgets. As 2009 draws to a close, the season’s most important message will be heard. Citizens should look beyond traditional gift-giving and consider what holidays really are all about.