Lifestyle | December 5th, 2023

What makes the perfect gift?

By: Mycah Brown
What makes the perfect gift?

Grab your mittens and hot cocoa! The holiday season is right around the corner, and college students all over the country are looking forward to going home and spending time with their loved ones over break. At Florida A&M University, many students are looking forward to a three-week break after finals and a kickstart at the Celebration Bowl against the Howard University Bisons in Atlanta on Dec. 16.

After a long semester of tedious academic pursuits, some time off is almost necessary. The holidays are known to raise spirits for more reasons than just family, football and great food. With images of Santa all around and his extended helpers in almost every mall across the country, who wouldn’t be excited to see all the presents left under the tree on Christmas morning?

The reality for many college students, who would love to be avid gift-givers, is that their current financial situation doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to spoil the ones they hold dear to their hearts. Most of us would like to gift our moms with the newest Dior perfume and our little brother with more games for his PS5. We always hear that it’s not about the presents, but there is a certain sense of guilt you feel when you can’t do for the ones you love. For the time being, quality time can be the best gift that any family could receive from their students who spend so much time away from home.

Jasmine Thompson is a fourth-year psychology student at FAMU who shares her love through the art of cooking. Thompson owns a catering business, A Taste of Jas, where she often sells plates and meal preps. On Christmas morning, Thompson’s contribution to family traditions is a hefty breakfast that she makes every year. If you ever get the chance to try A Taste of Jas, you will understand just how special that meal is!

“I’m extremely family-oriented, so the holiday season for me is a time for tradition, a time for family, and a time for me to tune the world out,” Thompson said. “I feel like the traditions and meaning behind holidays have gotten lost for a lot of people. But I just like to ground myself during the holidays and remind myself how lucky I am and how grateful I should be for all that I have. Even just my family is enough.”

When it comes to giving gifts, Thompson is extremely intentional. The best gifts are the ones that show you truly know and pay attention to the recipient. For her, the perfect gift would be something that helps expand her business, whether that be a ring light to help with content or more pots and pans. However, the best gift she ever received was a sculpture from her mother that represented their relationship.

Other students, like Vincent Pendergrast III, share similar thoughts about giving and receiving gifts during the holidays. As an out-of-state student from Maryland, Pendergrast makes a long trip back home every year to spend the season with his large immediate family. In a household with three sisters and a brother, Christmas time is especially fun for Pendergrast and his siblings. Growing up the quintet played Secret Santa with their parents, which gave each of them the opportunity to give back.

“Every Christmas, me, my brother, and my sisters would play Christmas Bingo,” Pendergrast said. “My mother would buy gift cards and we would win prizes. But there’s only four of them, and there’s five of us so it makes it competitive.”

As a college student, Pendergrast still continues to give as much as he can. But now he places more value on the time he gets to spend with his family and friends at home, who he doesn’t see as much.

In the Skelton household, Secret Santa is a way for everyone in their large family to be included in all the gift-giving fun as well. Fourth-year elementary education student Taylor Skelton said that is very helpful for the younger people in her family, like herself, to be able to participate and show their appreciation for one another.

As someone who loves kids, Skelton often finds herself spending a lot of time with the little ones in her family: her twin cousins, nieces and nephews. Since they were born, she’s done her best to instill the holiday spirit into each of them and make this time of the year special and memorable.

“I love the idea of Santa Claus,” Skelton said. “I grew up believing in Santa Claus, so I instill that into their lives. I tell them Santa Claus is coming, and they look forward to it all throughout December until Christmas. You know, we have to do the cookies and milk and set it out for him. It’s good to see kids’ imagination grow and put it into Christmas. It’s such a fun experience for them, and I’m glad I’ll be there to help make that experience.”

When Skelton gathers with her family, and they play all the traditional holiday music, a sense of joy and happiness envelops the room. There is a certain sense of fulfillment you get during the holiday season that is absolutely refreshing after a year of hard work.

For college students, who may or may not have the means to give, time spent with family is the most important during this time of year. While tangible gifts are always appreciated, they don’t always last. It’s the memories and thoughtfulness that keep holiday spirits up and thriving each year.