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The Gift By Cheryll Boswell

It’s that time of year when the gift-buying and gift-giving frenzy has begun. It is Christmas time. Let’s face it, buying presents for everyone in the family is expensive, especially if you have a large family. Not to mention buying for coworkers, the mailperson, or even something for the garbage person.

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It’s also that time of year when we think about redistributing (aka regifting) a gift that’s been sitting in a box on a shelf. Regifting is something we probably all have done. Justified by believing someone can put that unwanted, unused gift to better use. I personally believe regifting unwanted or unused presents is a win for the planet and environment by reducing the amount of trash and finding new ways to reuse something. There are a couple of basic rules to giving presents you didn’t want or need before you redistribute them. 1. The gift must be new and never used. 2. Remove all tags. 3. Rewrap it.

Celebrating with family on a recent holiday reminded me how important the gift or ability to read is something that must be regifted again and again and again. There were four generations of us enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. My mother, several of her children, and her children’s children were all gathered at the table. At 95, my mother, who is dealing with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, still reads everything. Birthday cards and get-well cards, she reads them. The disclaimers on television ads, she reads them out loud. Any written words on sweatshirts or t-shirts, she’s reading and even commenting on them. Watching and listening to her read, I am reminded that someone took the time to teach her how to read over nine decades ago. At 95 years of age, reading is a skill she still uses in spite of Alzheimer’s.

The juxtaposition to seeing my mom read was watching my bashful yet intelligent six-year-old nephew be intimidated by even wanting to read. When he was three years old, he could swipe icons on my cell phone to access YouTube and watch paw patrol. Growing up in the country, on a farm in Oklahoma, my mother did not have the luxury of going to the library or even flipping a switch to heat up a cold room so she could sit around a table and read the “Little Gingerbread Boy” while eating. It was more like putting a few more pieces of wood into the wood-burning stove. My nephew reminded me how much he likes Spiderman—demonstrating how shooting webs from spider man’s wrist can take him wherever he wants to go. The smile on his little face talking about spiderman just made my Christmas shopping a lot easier.

Reading is one of the most important skills a child or adult can have. It opens a world of possibilities. Once that gift of reading is given, it is something that will be there for a lifetime. It can’t be taken away, given away. But it can be shared and re-gifted to others over and over.