Give till’ it hurts


    Katrina Gerhardsen

    Special to the Universe

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

    Nothing is more fitting when describing the Christmas Shopping season to the retailers than these famous words of Charles Dickens. Gift shopping is not meant to turn the Christmas season into a headache: Instead of buying expensive and not needed gifts, people should give to those in need.

    Few consumers are aware of the extent of Christmas gift shopping. Retailers hire economists who develop systems so that economic factors can be merged with market-level factors to arrive at specific forecasts, according to Chain Store Age. The Christmas sales are forecasted six to nine months in advance!

    And the consumers are all a part of the game. According to the New York Times, the retailers normally ring up half their sales during this time of the year.

    So Christmas shopping must be among American’s favorite activities, if we should interpret the sales statistics, right? Not really. People tend to complain about the whole Christmas season because “it is impossible to find the perfect gift — he/she has everything.”

    Still people cling to the tradition and the gifts have be bought. The result is endless ?have-to-do? lists in busy December,

    It does not have to be this way. Instead of buying a gift rather half-heartedly to a friend who probably already has it, give a cash contribution to a charity and tell your friend what you did. There are plenty of children out there who are hopefully waiting for St. Claus to fulfill the wish list they submitted already in July — but the parents are too poor.

    The project “Sub for Santa” is an excellent example of a charity project in which students can get involved. United Way is the mediator of the program. They give names of poor family in the Provo/Orem area, and BYU organizes groups and matches them up with the families.

    Each group gives clothing, new toys and books to the kids. The support this year (about 5000 students are participating) shows that people are willing to help out – it is just a matter of getting involved.

    Even SCROOGE, a not-too-serious organization whose quasi-serious mission is to demphasize the commercial aspects of Christmas, suggests donating as an alternative Christmas gift. They also encourage inexpensive gifts that require personal thought and originality. A gift can be a service, a letter or our time. Whatever it is, the gift is just an expression of thought and love. Therefore, your dad will appreciate your thoughtfulness if you donate a gift to the needy instead of adding another tie to his collection — which he probably will exchange the day after Christmas anyway. And the best part of it — you are free from another headache over what to get him.

    It might be important to be reminded by Mother Teresa?s words in this busy Christmas season about those who really need our gifts: “I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving, but do not give leftovers. Give until it hurts, until you feel the pain.”

    Gerhardsen is a senior from Stord, Norway majoring in journalism

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