Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association


Updates, opinion pieces, and news related to the department

Alternative Christmas Giving

Every Christmas I stumble upon the same old questions: What do I need this Christmas? What should I write down on my grownup Christmas list?

No, I wasn’t always this interested on what I would receive for the holidays. I personally believe there is so much more to Christmas than colourfully wrapped boxes of cardboard, but even though I don’t really care for Christmas presents, I have been disappointed numerous times with the presents I’ve received.

In my eyes, receiving no presents during these holidays, now filled with silly materialism, is much better than receiving presents I don’t need or worse yet, presents that have been obviously re-gifted showing how little a person cares or pays attention to your likes and dislikes.

So, in order to avoid being disappointed with yet another scarf that I don’t need, or a music CD by an artist I don’t really like, I decided to write a yearly Christmas wish list. This brings me back to my original question… What do I need this Christmas?

I could lie to myself and say there’s lots that I need: I need a new pair of winter boots (even though I already own 2 pairs of winter boots that are still in mint condition), or some DVD’s (even though I have no use for them after I have watched the movie once), or maybe some money to buy clothes, a new gadget, etc… But in reality, I don’t NEED any of these things; I just want new things, which eventually (ie. in less than a year) end up in a big pile of things labeled “good things to give away”.

So earlier this year, while watching TV in the comfort of my home, surrounded by things that I needed and already owned, an ad sparked an idea… a new Christmas wish. What if I got my loved ones to gift someone in need on my behalf? What if my Christmas present was a goat or a water filter for a family in need in a remote village in Laos? They would benefit so much more from a $100 water filter than I would from a combination of gifts that I probably don’t need, adding up to $100.

World Vision has this neat idea called The Gift Catalogue, where they list alternative ways of gifting your loved ones this Christmas. I would have never thought that giving chickens ($50) or guinea pigs ($35) to a family or community in need would have such a great impact, but if these families are just getting by with a plate of beans a day, an egg or a guinea pig does make a huge difference! Better yet, they could even make a living out of the products these animals offer.  There are many options and price ranges including bigger gifts for group-gifts, such as a $15,000 gift for drilling a water well near a rural village in the Saharan desert, or help thousands of Ghanian children eat well and get access to health care for $6,500.

This Christmas, I have added a new item to my Christmas wish list… just above the new hiking wool socks and iPhone cover that I have been eyeing for a couple of months now, it says: Chickens/Guinea Pigs/Fruit Trees/Antibiotics (all under $50!).

Now instead of opening a gift that will most probably end in the “Don’t need anymore” pile, I will be opening one of the most satisfying gifts of all: the gift of giving!

Merry Christmas ya'll!