I was looking at an article this week where the author was making suggestions for holiday gifts that would fit any budget. As I read, I started thinking. Oven mitts that double as colorful dinosaur puppets would be a great gift for Mom. Would my grandma want the snow globe salt and pepper shakers? Which of my Jewish friends would want a dreidel muffin tin for only ten dollars? I bet my uncle would like the Death Star shaped Planetarium. Bacon flavored candy canes would be appreciated by my little brother who loves bacon enough to eat it as candy.
The truth is, people often scramble for last minute holiday gift ideas. As funny as these gifts are, it seems impossible that they could convey the love I have for my family and friends and still fit in my budget while I’m saving for college. I would really be wasting money on a gift, just for the concept of giving a gift, when I could seriously do better. Ralph Emerson says, “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.”
So I came up with a list of gifts that truly fit every budget, and every taste.
1. Give positivity to your family and friends! One of my fellow basketball teammates spoke of positivity, “When I’m feeling down or getting tired from the sprints I cheer on the other girls that are running instead of focusing on my troubles.” Genuine smiles and cheerful words are rapidly contagious. A compliment will brighten anyone’s day. I remember sincere compliments I’ve received from last year much more vividly than a present I got for Christmas.
2. Give forgiveness to someone who has wronged you. I made the choice to hold a grudge against someone for an argument we had in middle school. We avoided each other and were rude for two years! When I finally decided to apologize and talk to them, I felt so silly for not doing it sooner. We are not super good friends anymore, but we are pleasant. That huge weight and built up anger was lifted off my shoulders. I know my friend appreciated this gift to them and I enjoyed giving it.
3. Give of your time. During Thanksgiving I volunteered for a food drive activity. Sharing my time was not the easiest thing to do, but afterwards I was glad that I did. The service I performed for those that were hungry and needed help was worth much more to me and the people I was helping than if I had just given them money. Sometimes time spent with a loved one means much more than any physical gift.
4. Give a patient and listening ear to someone who has had a hard day or needs a friend. What if I shocked my grandparents and called them for Christmas? I could spend an hour really talking and listening, even encouraging them to share by asking them about their life. What a gift!
5. Give gratitude to those who help you. Say thank you! When I give help to classmates on assignments I am always more willing to help again the next time when they show gratitude. Try to notice the little things that your peers, parents, and teachers do to help you every day. Thank them for it! This could be verbal or written. What a great idea for a teacher gift.
This holiday season, before you reach for your wallet, reach into your heart first, and share it.
This column is the opinion of Claire Kincaid, a sophomore at Soldotna High School.