Traditional presents give holiday season stress

By Skylar Bouchard, Columnist

As snow is starting to cover campus and Starbucks begins to bring back advertisements for the peppermint mocha, we are reminded that Christmastime is approaching us once again. The excitement of seeing family and finally getting to eat a decent, home-cooked meal for the first time in months is unbeatable.

Being away from home has made me appreciate the season much more than I used to. Yet, as my sister once again begins to flood my inbox with all the makeup products she’s looking forward to getting, I find my empty wallet has made this time of year a little more stressful for me.

This issue is shared by others at this campus. Roughly 38 percent of people report an increase in stress during the holiday season, with one of the leading causes of increased stress being the financial burden. According to a 2015 survey by Ohio State University, nearly 70 percent of college students worry about their financial situation, making the financial burden worse for those who take out loans or even pay tuition without their parents’ help.

This year, maybe we should all be a little more lenient with gift-giving.

The holidays should not be stressful. Seeing as this will be the only time many of us will see our families for the next couple months, worrying about giving each and every family member a gift  is completely unnecessary. Instead, we should be cherishing the time we get to spend with the friends and family that most of us probably won’t see until spring, or even summer, break.

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    This is not to rip apart gift-giving, as it’s quite a beautiful process. It causes people to think about one another’s needs and breeds generosity toward each other; even if it might be, at some times,  forced. But with the current stress of student debt lurking in the depths of many of our minds, maybe putting our money to a more practical purpose is a better bet. Plus, any level-headed relative would understand the absence of a gift when you tell them you pay roughly $30,000 a year for tuition.

    There is a solution to this dilemma: giving our time to one another. Although not everyone has the financial means to spend lots of money on a present, not every present has to be bought with cash.

    So let’s think back to when we were kids and get a little bit more creative this year. Change the oil in the family car, make the holiday dinner for once or even fix your grandmother’s broken computer that you wonder why she doesn’t just replace with a newer model. We can all find something to do for one another, so the choice is yours.

    It might just be better to focus on making our family’s lives a bit easier than giving them something they will forget about in a month.

    Skylar is a freshman in ACES.

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