Add to the ironies of the Christmas season that parents, who have given their children nearly everything they own — materially, intellectually and spiritually — present such a mystery to their children as to what they can do in return, even in the season of giving.
It starts for most people in childhood, a time when it’s virtually impossible to surprise their mom at Christmas. Seeing as the only shopping time is spent walking down the department aisle hand in hand with her, in fear of getting lost, finding something thoughtful is out of the question. And from there it simply snowballs into perennially lame gifts from child to parent, and many never recover.
How can students overcome their bad habits and get something their more-than-deserving mom and dad actually want? For most students who struggle with this dilemma each year, it’s simply hard to get that perfect gift without a few more greenbacks and a little more time, but there is hope.
Krista Keddington, a sophomore from Centerville, said she and her siblings usually figure it out better when they go in together for a gift.
“We all chipped in to buy a lawn mower,” Keddington said. “It’s really the only [present] he uses.”
So is practicality the answer for students hung up on getting only the best for their parents?
“If it’s like really practical and they’d really use it [it’s good],” Keddington said. “But if it’s something you use once or twice, sentimental [would be better].”
But the dilemma between the practical and sentimental is only the beginning of why parents are so hard to shop for.
“My dad just has specific interests and you can only exhaust those things so many times. He likes reading, sports and movies basically,” said Emily Leibel, a senior from Fort Collins, Colo., majoring in Latin American studies and international development. “I guess you can always get him a book, but at a certain point there’s only so many books that he’s interested in.”
Sometimes parents seem to understand this dilemma — they may have experienced the same things in their time as a kid — but simply to help out financially, they don’t ask for anything.
“They’re both selfless and always wanting to give rather than receive,” said Lizzie Hiller, a freshman from Centerville, studying elementary education. “The one that I remember the most [is one] they asked for. We had all the kids together … they wanted us to bear our testimonies. They just had a family testimony meeting and it was one of the best nights.”
It seems that for the thoughtful and persistent present giver, it’s only a matter of time before it is something mom or dad actually wanted.
“My mom’s favorite musician has 15 albums out and she didn’t have all of them so I completed her collection for her and I got her the missing ones,” Leibel said.
Paying one’s parents back in full might not always be a realistic possibility, at least not in a monetary sense. And for those who fail trying, there are always gift receipts.