[One of the many great submissions to the Those Emergency Blues Prize for Writing. Posted here with permission.]
Author: Terri Schmitt
Blog: Nurse Story
10 gifts you should buy this Christmas – Under $100 dollars & they keep on giving!
I am sure the title caught you off guard, but darn it all…. if you are anything like me, the push for commercialism this holiday season probably drives you insane. I have noticed several articles of ‘top gifts’ to give or purchase and it’s not just ‘O’, even magazines on topics like travel or money have exploited the commercial angle. Most of these featured ‘top gifts’ are proverbially the latest excrement and a waste of the hours you spend at work earning the money to purchase them. Are we loosing sight of the real meaning of Christmas? In reflection, the most precious gifts I have ever received are the really valuable things like an education, mercy, clean water, civil rights, etc… So, here is a list of the top ten things you should REALLY purchase this Christmas; gifts that really mean something. You can trust me on this, I am a nurse.
1. Go to Samaritan’s Purse‘s gift giving catalog and purchase something. From clean water filters to Honey Bees, they have it all for people who really need it. I for one would be thrilled if I opened up a gift with a note inside saying this had been done in honor of me for Christmas.
2. Help with the Haiti Cholera Outbreak. The storm is still raging and killing many people every day. NOW is the time for you to stand up and help. Groups needing donations includeDoctors Without Boarders and Stand With Haiti.
3. Send a student to school at your Alma-mater. Higher education is hurting, financially speaking, which means they will most likely raise tuition rates, making them more unaffordable for the people who need an education most. Donate specifically to a scholarship fund you believe in.
4. Help your local food bank. I am not talking about a time commitment here, just go to the store, buy $100 worth of groceries and then go drop them off. How many people would you feed in your community? How would that impact the people you feed? How would that impact you?
5. Give the gift of time: Take a day off from work and spend the entire day with your family. What is the gift of a day worth? Let everyone pick one thing to do that does not cost money, take a drive, take a walk, play some football or basketball, read a book together, play a board game, watch a movie on the couch, make a list of the 5 places you want to visit or your top 5 favorite foods or books or whatever… Just do it!
6. Donate 2 hours of time to the Salvation Army and ring a bell. How much is 2 hours worth to you? How much would your two hours be worth to the Salvation Army? Find your local chapter and help them out a couple of hours this month or next.
7. Decrease infant mortality around the world. I am an unprecedented proponent of girl power, education, and rights globally. The number one way to decrease infant mortality, by a striking 50%, is to educate the girls in a society. Organizations like The Girl Effect are doing that. You can be a part of something bigger than yourself.
8. Give an annonymous gift. This is one of the best gifts ever! You can choose the time, place, person…. pay for some single mom’s tires/oil change when you go to get yours changed/replaced and do not let them know. Pay for the family behind you in the drive through lane at the local fast food restaurant. Waaaayyyy over-tip the pizza delivery guy (Lord knows they could use some extra cash). Whatever you decide, keep in mind that such random acts of kindness are more than just a rare gift, they are an inspiration.
9. Take a person you have not seen in a while, whom you have been lax in contacting, to lunch. Call them up and surprise them. Forget all of the apologies and ‘should have’s’. Reconnect.
10. Give the gift of kindness. In all of this holiday hustle there can be much anger and short tempers, funny since it is supposed to be the season of giving. Go out of your way to smile, say a kind word, walk your cart back to the cart drop off, hold the door open for someone, take a cup of hot chocolate to a person who has to work outside in the elements, play outside with the neighborhood kids and let them play in your yard… whatever. Spreading Christmas cheer through acting it out yourself is a potent virus that benefits all.
As we start this Christmas Season gift purchase might be the most important thing we do. Let’s do it wisely.