By Anne Reynolds
Season greetings! It’s time to think of others. Right? As much as I gripe about holiday shopping, I really do love buying gifts for people. It’s the one time of year when I get to force my taste on others and there is literally nothing they can do about it. Holiday etiquette requires that you express unbridled joy and gratitude when opening my present. After, all it’s the thought that counts and my thought is that this blue sweater is much more flattering than the old shapeless, stained, ratty sweater that your college girlfriend gave you. I never need to know that you may be secretly thinking about how soon you can re-gift it without getting caught.
Yes, giving is as much for the giver as the receiver. This is especially true when buying gifts for kids. There is nothing better than revisiting your childhood through the aisles of Toys R Us, squealing with delight and shouting out “I used to have this” to anyone around you while holding up a bendable Gumby doll. One year before Chip, my son, was born I was shopping for a toy to donate to Toys for Tots and came across my all-time favorite childhood toy, the Hippty Hop. Remember? The Hippity Hop was or still is the inflatable 18-36” ball shaped like an overweight horse or kangaroo.
I decided to buy it and since I was feeling particularly nostalgic I would get one for myself too. I went home, immediately broke out my bike air pump and spent the next hour and a half trying to inflate my pink horsey Hippity Hop. Finally I determined that it was inflated enough to produce some serious bounces and I sat down on it and began to hop. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account that Hippity Hops are designed for people under four feet tall and weigh less than 75lbs. On my second bounce my knees hit the floor which caused my upper body to propel forward and subsequently I smashed my head into the corner of my coffee table. I ended up knocking myself out and since I lived alone back then I had no idea how long I had been unconscious. I woke up with a huge gash in my forehead that no amount of makeup could cover. I wound up needing stitches and completely mortified. Needless to say, two kids received a Hippity Hop that year.
Of course, I still buy toys. I buy them for my son, my nephews, my friend’s kids and anonymous kids that don’t get to have brand new stuff very often. I still love it and although most of the time I resist buying the same toy for myself, I always get incredibly nostalgic and happy. I encourage you to donate a new unwrapped toy this year (see details below for Stratton Toy Drive). Giving anonymously is the best kind of giving you can do. Having volunteered and worked with disadvantaged children (yes, I have a soul) I know firsthand the impact of these gifts on the children who receive them.
For many kids this may be the first time they receive something to open for the holidays or maybe it’s the first time they open two or three presents. It’s hard to imagine but it’s true. Presents are a luxury for kids living in poverty especially when getting enough to eat is a daily struggle. If you are not in a position to buy something please consider giving the gift of your time. There are so many opportunities in our communities to volunteer and help those less fortunate. No matter what form your giving takes, just remember that the act of giving is equally if not more of a present to yourself than to the one receiving it.
By the way I have already ordered a gift for the Toy Drive from Amazon. It’s a Sit N Spin; the superfast super fun spinning seat. I know whoever gets it is going to love it just as much as I am going to love mine.