The Best Gifts Are Not Material

Annie Smuts, Columnist

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For the past year, my friends and I have had a memory book that we each fill out for a month. Each day, we are presented with a prompt and space to respond. I was looking through the book the other day and one prompt resonated with me: What is the best gift you’ve ever received? This time of year is full of giving. Everyone wants to show those around them that they appreciate them through material objects, but I’ve found that the best gifts are experiences.

The best present I ever received was for my fourteenth birthday. We were living in Thailand, and I was upset that my favorite artist, Ed Sheeran, was not coming. He had announced an expansive Asia tour, but Bangkok wasn’t included. This was at the end of our time abroad; we were making final travel plans and solidifying the logistics of our return to the United States. We already had two trips planned for the summer–to India and Australia–but there were so many other places we had not made it to; one of them being Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. So, I decided to go out on a limb and ask my parents if we could take a weekend trip there when Ed just so happened to be playing.

Everything seemed to be in my favor: I didn’t have school the Friday before the concert, tickets weren’t too expensive, and I was going to pay for them myself, so why couldn’t we go? To my surprise, my mom agreed to take me, and what ensued was, thus far, the best weekend of my life.
Leading up to the show, my mom and I explored Kuala Lumpur: We ate unique food and met people I’d never encounter at home.

That experience is something that I will hold dear in my heart for the rest of my life. While material goods are nice, they can be disposed of when one is done using them. I’m not saying that people need to give something as extravagant as a transcontinental trip, but even a nice dinner or ice skating at Campus Martius would make a positive impression. This is a season of trying to outdo others with the flamboyance of a gift, but a good memory doesn’t even compete; memories will end up in a journal that one can keep for years.

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