Putting thought into gifts

And, we’re off. Another holiday shopping season is officially under way.

A friend of mine sent me pictures from inside one of the larger stores that was open Thanksgiving day, and the sea of humanity was anxiety-inducing. Why, folks?

I know there are some who enjoy the sport of it all, the deals, the family-and-friends bonding. I understand that part, I suppose. But then I see photos of people squeezed in so close I wonder how they can breathe, and packed in that tightly allllll the way back as far as the camera picked up — not a single face that shows any joy — and I still don’t get it.

I hope those folks were having fun, and got some great Christmas gifts they might not have been able to afford otherwise. But I’ll take my chances later in the season.

Speaking of gifts, I’ve been seeing a lot written about the idea of giving experiences — or even volunteering/donating as a family — for Christmas. Now there is a concept I can get behind.

Sure, most people want something they can unwrap under the tree; but then what?

Think about the kids in your lives. Rooms and rooms full of stuff (sometimes in multiple homes), and what do you see them play with day after day? The same few things, right? The things they truly enjoy playing with would probably fill a medium-sized box, rather than several rooms.

In fact, think back over the past year to the number of times they wailed they were “bored,” or had “nothing to do,” despite those rooms full of stuff. (If, at that point, you threatened to pack up and donate the truck load of things they were ignoring, I suspect you are not alone.)

For most kids, the shiny new toy they play with for ten minutes Christmas Day (if it ever comes out of the box) is something they will outgrow soon, anyway. Oh, and while we are talking about outgrowing: Plenty of parents would probably be more grateful if others bought their kids clothing in next year’s sizes, even if the kids don’t get too wide-eyed over the idea.

Consider some gift ideas that will have a more lasting impact on those on your gift list. And, I’m not talking only about kids. There are adults who take their box of Christmas gifts, shove them in a corner and then don’t remember what they were given until someone gives the house a deep cleaning.

Know someone who does a lot of traveling? Maybe they could get good use out of gasoline cards. Someone in need of a day to themselves, or an adventure? Tickets to an attraction or a day at the spa might do the trick.

Family members who would benefit from an afternoon volunteering their time? We live in a valley full of nonprofit organizations who can steer toward an opportunity.

People who know me well are reading this thinking, OK, fine, what about books?

You’ve got me there. Books are my exception to the Let’s not pile on more stuff for the sake of stuff, rule.

And that’s the thing. Everyone has a special interest that makes it safe to buy “stuff” in that category. My friends who love Fiesta dinnerware and accessories, for example.

But you get the idea.

Put a little more thought into your gift-giving beyond the thrill of the chase for more stuff. The joy of giving is just as great when you are giving experiences and opportunities. For kids, especially, it may be better for them in the long run not to feed the idea that the accumulation of more things is any measure of true success in life. (And not to buy them more stuff that feeds their addiction to screentime, by the way.)

They will have just as merry a Christmas without the boxes full of stuff to pile into the trunk, unload at home and immediately forget.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com


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