Despite the fact that Christmas is still more than a month away and that I hate the over-commercialized monstrosity that November 1st-January 1st has become, Christmas is beginning to be unavoidable. I bought eggnog on the weekend, I’ve caught myself humming Christmas carols, and I started mentally saluting those who have decked the sidewalks of the city with the first tricklings of twinkle lights.
Christmas is coming, and along with it, a slew of online pieces declaring the best thing to get the X in your life. Most of the items on these lists are cute but costly, and the lists of adorable DIY gifts are oriented to talented people who have time.
University students have neither an abundance of pocket money or the time to make something thoughtful for the important people in their lives at Christmas. While I don’t completely buy into the idea that everyone IS COMPELLED BY THE BLAZING PITS OF CONSUMERISM HELL to give presents to absolutely everyone they know ON PAIN OF DEATH, I understand the desire to give your friends and family something for the trouble they go through in simply knowing you.
So here we are, you on that side of the screen and me on this side. Hi. Thanks for still sitting there. You must be pretty cool.
Finding gifts for your family will be a little easier–you’re likely more willing to spend what little money you have on the people who created you and are responsible for your survival up to this point. But what about tes amis? I mean, you love the people in your tutorial for That One Interesting Class You Have, and you still feel like the members of your high school gang are your beloved homies, but you can’t buy cute things on Etsy FOR EVERYONE.
And with finals taking place just before Christmas, you’re going to be too busy
sleeping studying to make a hundred decorative clay owls.
Here are a couple gift ideas for your fellow university student. 😉
1. FREE BACK RUBS.
Seriously. University is stressful, and everyone is tense and tired by the time the end of the semester rolls around. Maybe they’ll return the favour. This could be a bonding experience. Or maybe it could be creepy. Mostly it’ll be awesome for them.
Maybe they’re cute and this could be your chance. LOLOL.
2. FUZZY SOCKS.
Dumbledore and Dobby got it right. Socks are awesome. And cheap (thanks, Dollarama). And come in a variety of colours and patterns. Not to mention super practical because winter is coming and chances are, like you, your friends have yet to invest in a pair of decent winter boots. This makes socks all the more welcome.
3. COFFEE/TEA DATE.
Take your pal to a cute cafe (or Tim’s–never undervalue Tim’s. Tim’s can still be cute) and buy them a hot beverage. It’s like three bucks, two if you don’t get a latte. Your company is the real gift here. If you really wanna treat someone extra special (high school homies, what up? Long time no talk except on Facebook!) bring them back to your apartment/dorm and MAKE them tea. Cost goes way down. Also you can cuddle and talk about things that ought to not be discussed in public.
If you go to Costco and buy a ton of soap, set aside a chunk for a bro. Us new adults, we’re not used to remembering to buy that stuff, so if you distribute some no-name toiletries to your friends a few less people will have to wash their hair with Sunlight Oxi Action dish detergent until next grocery day. Just put a bow on it.
(Bonus points: toilet paper. It’ll seem like a joke gift, but it will be put to use.)
Could also be perceived as a joke gift. Also very much free at your university’s student union. This is the cheapest and lamest of the cheap and lame. But hey. You never know. VOILA.
6. PAJAMA DANCE PARTY.
Recommended location: public place.
Recommended music: soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy.
Recommended attire: Santa pajamas or Star Lord costume,
Fun guaranteed. Film it. Post it. Become an internet sensation.
7. BUILD AN OLAF TOGETHER.
Everyone loves building snowmen, and for many of us it might have been awhile since we birthed one of those snowy creations. Snowball fights may or may not ensue. Weather dependent.
8. MASON JARS WITH STUFF IN THEM.
Or other kinds of jars. Like Kraft peanut butter jars. Throw in a bunch of stuff and decorate the lid with a bow and their name.
Ideas for “stuff:” tea bags, chocolate kisses, hot chocolate mix, candy canes, (or even condoms or socks).
9. ANY VARIETY OF CHEAP FOOD, BASICALLY.
Crackers, Mr. Noodle, Tim bits, Dollarama chocolate. A mini jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. I’m sure they’ll eat it, because you know you will.
10. DO THEIR DISHES.
Lol I’m kidding. It’s Christmas. No one wants to do dishes. Take a nap together.
Remembrance Day is my favourite holiday.
It’s not like Christmas or Valentine’s Day or Halloween when our hyper-commercialized society explodes tenfold and everyone feels obligated to empty their pockets for toys and baubles and decorations.
Don’t get me wrong: Christmas is a great time of year to celebrate family and generosity, Valentine’s Day is a sweet idea in theory (although heart-shaped pillows and pink singing monkeys are a little unnecessary); Halloween is very practical in terms of keeping demons away. But these holidays are defined by trips to Wal-Mart and Target, credit card debt, and retail competition. Consumerism takes over, and I hate it.
Remembrance Day is my favourite holiday.
On Remembrance Day, there is no materialistic hunger or pressure to buy the perfect gift or have the best decorations. Remembrance Day has remained true to its original purpose: to set aside one day to purposefully remember what we should remember every day of the year.
November 11th has always held a particular resonance with me. As a child I raptly listened to the Last Post and the recitation of Flanders Field, watching the parade of local veterans and reading the names on the cold cenotaph.
The unity I’ve experienced with my community–and others across the country–on November 11th is the most intimate, touching, and emotional thing I’ve ever experienced. I wrote in a short story once that on Remembrance Day it’s as if we all stand in a glass dome thrown by the torch held by the soldier on the cenotaph, and no one wants to be the first to break it.
It’s my favourite holiday.
I was going to continue to write about how Remembrance Day is the best holiday, the most meaningful, and least commercialized.
I was going to write about how Christmas is celebrated from November 1st to January 1st, and how Halloween dominates the entire month of October–yet Remembrance Day gets one day, and perhaps you can count the ten days leading up to November 11th.
I was going to write about how important it is to celebrate Remembrance Day every day, to take the time to notice your local cenotaph and make conversation with your local veterans. I was going to write about all the things you already know.
This year Remembrance Day will be different here in Canada. It will be a little more real, a little more heartbreaking, and a little more proud. And by a little, I mean a lot.
So instead of writing 1000 words of everything you already know, I’m going to leave you with these:
If you have any other links or images you think I should include, please leave a comment, email me, or DM me on Twitter.
If you have written or created an online tribute for Remembrance Day and would like it linked here, feel free to send me the link and I’ll include it.
Please attend a Remembrance Day service if you can, and take a moment of silence on November 11th to remember.