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Reflections: Why I am not a “material girl” when it comes to gift giving

Ever since I hit my teens, I’ve made it my personal mission to reject the blatant materialism that pervades our society. Don’t get me wrong, I love going shopping as much as the next person – except, that usually only occurs once a year. I understand the joy in buying or receiving new things; it’s serotonin inducing, on some level, and it can be fun to show off the latest fad or trend to our friends.

But around the time when I started gaining a better awareness of our world, I began to understand: material gifts usually end up as useless junk. Fast fashion has a continued popularity with consumers so, unless you’re certain of the quality, many clothes won’t last very long. Many of the appliances on the market today are cumbersome, complicated, or just plain unnecessary (For example, does anyone still use a roomba?). Jewelry can be beautiful and sentimental, but most times it’s just a shiny rock to wear, with no real use outside of an aesthetic appeal. 

For my thirteenth birthday, I requested my family give me something more precious than anything I could have or hold. I wanted an experience. My grandmother took me to a pottery class, and I still have fond memories of that day. For my fifteenth birthday, my father took me canoeing, and I cherish that joyful time where things seemed much simpler than what they would be. 

Lately, I’ve begun to appreciate my outlook a bit more than usual. The pandemic has severely stunted our experiences; we have now just returned to concerts, parties, dinner-dates, and vacations. When I was locked up in quarantine a few weeks ago, or down with the blues last winter, I cherished those memories I had made on birthdays or Christmases. More than I could ever cherish a video game or new sweatshirt. 

As an adult with my own valuable human connections, I choose to carry on this tradition now more than ever. Valentine’s day is just around the corner, and I’ve been busy making dinner reservations and buying tickets to the theater. I want to make something of this holiday, not just give roses that will wilt or a box of chocolates that will be devoured in five minutes. 

If you’ve already bought your partner something physical, that’s not a bad thing. Every person is unique, and thus every gift will be, too. But the next time a holiday or special occasion nears, consider creating a new experience with your loved ones. It’ll be a memory you cherish for years to come. 

Life is meant to be lived, so go out and try something new or return to an old favorite. We all could use some new memories, and there are plenty of things waiting for you. 

Colleen McLafferty is a sophomore studying history at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Colleen by tweeting her at @colleenbealem.

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