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Friday, 21 November 2014

A Different Kind of Gift Catalogue

From World Vision.ca
   Christmas Gift Catalogues began arriving in my mailbox a few weeks ago, from various charitable organizations that seek to empower the needy around the world.  As I was paging through them, I was thinking about the types of gifts that can be purchased.  I realized that most of them are gifts that continue to generate resources rather than drain one's resources.  For example, a fruit tree will result in the growth of fruit for many years to come, with some care. The gift of a sewing machine, likewise, can be used to make useful products and provide an income for its recipient.
   I wonder if this quality of being generative is overlooked in the gifts we choose to give in North America.  In fact, so many of the gifts people consider desirable have the opposite quality.  For instance, a cellular phone continues to consume one's resources after the purchase price has been paid.  I marvel at the expense of monthly plans that people put into their budgets as a given!  Vehicles and battery-operated toys also continue to require money to keep them going.  Finally, hand-held devices that supply the user with portable music need to be refreshed with new tunes as the owner gets tired of the old ones from six months ago.
   So, for what it's worth, I came up with a list of gifts for children that could be considered generative in a North American context.  They ask the recipient to be active instead of passive.  They open up possibilities for the receiver to pass something on through learning, cooperation, an act of service or earning money.

  • a snow shovel 
  • a woodworking tool
  • vegetable seeds, potting soil, gardening tools and/or space for a garden
  • a piggy bank
  • enrollment fee for a babysitting course
  • a bicycle, new or used
  • "How to" books: cooking, crafts, repairs, building, card making
  • a musical instrument
  • games that require more than one player
  • music lessons
  • kitchen tools
  • any uplifting book that is age appropriate
  • sports equipment
  • building toys, like LEGO®
  • sketch book, drawing pencils 
  • a journal to write in 
  • knitting needles or a crochet hook with yarn
  • supplies to make jewelry, cards or art
   I know that not every gift we give needs to be generative, but it is good to at least think about the short and long-term impact of our presents.

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