Give Thanks, Give Gifts, and Give Back

by Nell Bruckner

In this season of giving gifts and giving thanks, I think it’s important to reflect briefly on all the blessings I’ve received in the past few months. I’m grateful for HB, my family, my team, and that there’s only two weeks until Christmas break. As we move into peak consumer spending time it’s even more important to count your blessings and keep your family and friends close. I’ve always had a little bit of a difficulty accepting Black Friday and Cyber Monday, given that we spend all of Thanksgiving Day counting all the things we’re grateful for, then later that night go out and spend copious amounts of money on tangible objects that we rarely truly need. Don’t get me wrong- I love shopping, and there’s nothing wrong with shopping for yourself or others. It can be really fulfilling putting in time and effort into selecting gifts for those closest to you. The trap that we most often fall into, however, is the overuse of the term “need.”

Countless times I find myself on Wanelo, Poshmark, Amazon, and other online shopping sites thinking omg I need this makeup pallet! Or I need that dress for New Years! I have to stop myself and think, but do I really need these things? I already have a dress that would look perfect on New Years, and I don’t have time to perfect a smoky eye. Most of the items on my Christmas list are mere wants, rather than necessities. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting things. It’s human nature to want things. What isn’t so good is acting on every want without thinking about the needs of others.

The holiday season is also a great time to give back to the community and to those less fortunate than us. Next time you see a $15 dollar Lokai bracelet you think you need, do a quick Google search and look at charities that could use that $15. Even if you decide to buy the bracelet, you will have a charity in mind for the next time you want to give back. Remember that $1 helps the Cleveland Food Bank provide 4 meals for people in need, so that $15 dollars could serve 45 free meals. That’s a huge difference made with little cost to you. The average pair of Lululemon leggings is $98, with some being as much as $148. Heifer International can give a flock of chickens, ducks, and geese for only $60, providing a gift of empowerment, nutrition, and sustainability to a family in a developing country. You can also go to Kiva.org and lend microloans to budding entrepreneurs, students, farmers, and others to help kick start their careers, with some recipients asking for as little as a $100 loan.

In the spirit of sustainability, look in your closet at things you think need to be replaced, whether it be your REI raincoat, your bean boots, or your iPhone, because many stores have warranties varying from limited to unlimited. LL Bean has a Satisfaction Guarantee that allows you to send them your boots, jackets, sleeping bags, and even tents that they will repair free of charge, so check the brand’s warranty before simply throwing away an item and replacing it. Oftentimes older models are more reliable than the new ones anyway, so in many cases you’ll be doing yourself a favor. It takes little to no time to search “J Crew Warranty” and see what services the store provides. You can save a little money along with limiting your environmental footprint in the process.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the spirit of the season, and try your best to give back a little or a lot. Something as small as going to the APL and spending an hour sitting with the cats and dogs in the kennel can brighten your and the animal’s day. Stay thankful, be mindful, and have a safe and happy holiday.