EDITORIAL: Think outside the (gift-wrapped) box this season

Illustration by Rob Gebelhoff/ robert.gebelhoff@mu.edu

We think most students would agree Thanksgiving break is the best thing since … well, winter break. Other than the obvious reason of having a five-day weekend, Thanksgiving break is special because of the variety of ways people use it.

Some people eat their weight in mashed potatoes; others spend their day watching football. Students can finally sleep in and get a head start on those final projects (or not). Perhaps you’re one of the people who play board games with your extended family next to a fireplace, or maybe you’re one of those brave/crazy souls freezing your hiney off waiting in line for Black Friday door-busters.

Regardless of what you did over Thanksgiving break, we hope you were able to do something with your family, friends and loved ones. After all, that’s what this time of year is really about.

And now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to turn our attention to the upcoming holidays, specifically those that involve presents.

Last weekend, record number of shoppers participated in the largest shopping days of the year. From children’s toys to 65-inch televisions, Santa was able to cross a lot of things off his shopping list at a discounted price. But is he just giving these gifts because it’s his job, or does he really care that we’ve been good all year and deserve a little reward?

Even if you don’t believe in Santa, there’s a lesson to be learned from that last sentence.

We hope that all of those who have started making a list and checking it twice will consider alternative options to mainstream consumerism. Store-bought gifts are not the only option this season; neither is buying gifts for people just because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do.

Buying commercial gifts is far from the only way to show a person you care. In fact, if that is the only way you express your appreciation for your loved ones, perhaps you should re-evaluate your methods.

Shouldn’t spending quality time with your family and friends be a genuine gift in itself? Sure, the holidays are often times for family quarrels and uncomfortable sibling rivalries, but without those quirks, it just wouldn’t be family.

“Giving” doesn’t always have to mean gifts. It can mean giving your cousin moral support for his job interview, giving your parents appreciation for all they do or giving your grandma a smile by enjoying her cookies (even though they may not taste the greatest).

What if material gifts didn’t exist, and everyone donated the money saved to those in need of food and shelter? We’re not saying all gifts are bad, but they would be a lot more meaningful in this scenario, or even if they were given with more care and less consumerism.

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