There are options for gifts

Published 12:00 pm Friday, December 4, 2015

By T.J. Ray

A useful list of suggestions popped up on my computer. May I share them with you?

In a world gone slightly mad, it seems we need good advice on how to live.

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The likelihood that man not only will endure, but also will prevail fades day by day, atrocity by atrocity, cheat by cheat. Survive or not, it may be our divine purpose in life to try to make the effort. As the Good Book says, it is meet and right so to do.

The best gifts of all come not from the mall but from the heart. In that spirit, we offer you this unique “shopping list” of ideas to help you spread a special kind of cheer in this season of giving.

Take your out-of-date eyeglasses from that cluttered dresser drawer and put them into the hands of someone who truly needs them.

When shopping or out about town, keep your eyes open for a big Christmas tree flocked with paper angels. This heavenly sight will be the Angel Tree created by the Salvation Army. Here’s how the program works: Each “angel” holds a child’s name, age, sex, size, and gift suggestion. An interested person selects an “angel,” purchases the gift for the child, and then places the gift under the tree for distribution by Salvation Army volunteers.

Take a basket of gifts to a family that’s struggling financially. Include food, clothing and toys. Why not stick in a card for a free family pizza at a local shop?

Run errands for a homebound person.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or take canned goods to The Pantry.

Call a nursing home and get the names of five people who don’t often receive mail. Send each one a beautiful Christmas card. You likely have a few that didn’t get sent in December. Sign it, “from Santa.” Better still, take the time to stop at a nursing home or assisted living facility and go in with a card or a gift, even if it’s only a couple of apples and a little candy cane in a bag.

Check with the sheriff and offer to bring something to his tenants who don’t have local families.

Note the names of folks who sadly lost loved ones during the “merry” season. You may want to mark down their names and later on express your sorrow for their loss.

Give an anonymous gift of money to someone who has been laid off.

On a rainy day when you don’t want to go out, go through your closets and box up clothing you haven’t worn in two years or more. Give items away that are still in good condition.

Offer to baby-sit for new parents to give them a chance to do some shopping or just plain relaxing.

Make it a daily practice to do something nice for someone without telling them you did it. The Boy Scouts constantly remind young fellows of the motto: “Do a Good Turn Daily.”

Give a pint of blood; it’s the gift of life.

Write letters to several people who have had a positive influence on your life.

Thank them for the gift they have given you.

One more thing: the spirit of Christmas need not be packed away with your decorations. As you read this list, my bet is that faces and names came to mind, folks you might do some of these things for to lighten their day. Now go do it!

T.J. Ray, a retired professor of English at the University of Mississippi, can be reached at