Christmas giving was saved, no thanks to Congress
A few weeks back, I wrote Congress and humbly requested that it send me a "Christmas Bailout" package for the amount of $10,000, explaining that I was financially destitute (but for all the right reasons) and needed a little help this year in bringing smiles to my loved ones' faces.
Well, it never came.
I ran out to my mailbox every day in hopes that the members of Congress had seen the light and decided that they couldn't stand the thought of breaking a nice boy's heart, especially over the holidays, but that apparently was not the case.
There's a bright side to this story, however. I have had a "Holiday Emergency Fund" squirreled away in my bedroom closet to be used in desperate occasions such as these, so I was able to purchase actual gifts for my friends and family this Christmas season after all.
In fact, I can honestly say that I have spent more money on Christmas shopping this year than I ever have before. But that isn't saying much.
In leaner years, when I was working around an allowance of $3 a week, I had to be a bit more creative with my gift giving. I would do most of shopping at the Dollar Store, purchasing such things for my family as Whoopie Cushions (hours of fun), stale Christmas cookies and slightly defective wine glasses.
Even better, I would sometimes find objects around the house which belonged to my parents -- such as watches and flashlights -- and hide them in my bedroom closet a couple of weeks before Christmas Day. Then, I would stand back and watch amusedly as my parents spent the days leading up to Christmas frantically searching the house for their missing items.
On Christmas morning, they would open their gifts from me and discover the truth. I still distinctly remember hiding behind the Christmas tree on a number of occasions, and watching as they opened their gifts from me. It was that moment of indecision -- in which they didn't know whether to be angry at me for causing them such frustration or relieved that they had finally found their long-lost possessions -- which I lived for.
Unfortunately, they usually chose the latter route, and my dad would angrily cry out from the tense silence: "where is that kid!?" and I would have to spend the remainder of Christmas Day on the run. Yes, those were the good times.
Since then, I've spent progressively more on Christmas shopping every year. But there still remains in me a hint of the conniving spirit of my younger years: when purchasing gifts for members of my immediate family, I usually make my selection at least somewhat correspond to items which I personally would benefit from having.
For example, I'm hoping my brother enjoys a release from my new favorite band: The Bay City Rollers. And I'm anticipating my youngest brother playing the latest strategy game with me, which I purchased for him.
Every year my grandmother gives my family things of hers that she wants us to have and cherish. It could be anything from a shark's tooth that she collected on a trip to Florida, to my late grandfather's watch. Amidst all the battery operated games, ugly Christmas sweaters that end up being re-gifted and packages of fruit-cake that no one likes, the gifts she gives are usually the most anticipated and treasured of the day.
My grandma has taught me lots of things, but perhaps one thing we could all learn from her is that it's not important how much is spent on a gift, but whether it truly comes from the heart.
Nathan Kitzmann is a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School.