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The Way to Solve Bullying Is Not Through Awareness

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BY ABBY MAC

Through all the seminars, awareness programs and group chats at school that revolve about bullying and the urge to stop it, none have succeeded.  I am probably bursting dreams of many of the motivational speakers which have come to schools trying to convince various people not to bully and how to cope with bullying best, but the fact of the matter is; THEY’RE NOT WORKING.  I am sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, the hours spent promoting and having various “Say No to Bullying” days is not putting an end to bullying.

I have been severely bullied most of my schooling life (so far this year there has been none – let’s not jinx that) so I think it is fair that I have an opinion on this.  There are many different ways to attack the issue of bullying and each method will work better for a different victim and put a stop to the bullying faster.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” and sometimes that can be the largest problem with teachers, adults or anybody trying to solve bullying.  Approaches have to be different depending on the situation, type of bully and who the victim is.

Before writing this post, I questioned what I thought could end bullying and to be honest, I don’t know 100%.  I can provide advice and how I would have liked to seen the bullies be dealt with but they aren’t definite answers either.  Who knows what goes through the mind of someone that openly chooses to demean, degrade, criticise, inflict pain and damage another person?  Sometimes, nothing at all.  Below are a few things that I think need to be actioned more and unfortunately, more harshly.

1.       Accountability

Throughout the years that I have been bullied, not one person who has bullied me has ever had to apologise.  Not one.  Ever.  Quite frightening?  Not once have that had to admit to bullying me and apologise.  People not being made accountable for their actions means that haven’t had to see any fault in their behaviour.  It means that they aren’t being told that they’re behaviour they are showing is wrong.  Consequently, no effort has to be made by them to change.

Most time incidents of bullying has occurred, I have reported it to a teacher or if matters become worse, a year co-ordinator, deputy principal or headmaster.  Each time, they have either denied the bullying is occurring (Yes, because they would know sitting in their offices) or promised some sort of action which has never been followed through with.

Ensuring that bullies become accountable for their actions can firstly help to recognise their behaviour is wrong and in doing this, it tells them they have been caught and an excuse is not going to be provided for their behaviour.  Hopefully, this will lead to a cease in the bullying.

2.       Identifying all types of bullying

Bullying is not just punching someone.  It is not just calling them fat.  It is not just writing them a mean message.  Bullying can also be being a bitch.  At my last school, bitchiness, what the prime type of bullying I received, however, bitchiness is sometimes the hardest to identify and the easiest to cover.  Many people underestimate the power of people, particularly, girls being bitches to each other because bitchiness, is most of the time silent and adapted to directly hurt the individual intended.

Bullying is not okay

Bullying comes in all forms. And none of it is okay.

For instance, I was standing in line at school waiting for a class and a group of girls came up to our class and waved and said hello to everyone standing there.  Apart from me.  They did this every time we had that class for one and a half terms.  To an adult, it’s something you should just get over.  But when that happens every day, in front of everybody else, it hurts.  Or a group of girls playing “What Do I Hate” in class.  They were all sitting around me and it started with, girls with blonde hair, girls who wear their hair in plaits (I was wearing my hair in plaits), girls in White House (I was in White House), girls whose names begins with ‘A’.  It’s bitchy.  And it sucks.

Trying to tell an adult that them simply death staring you every time you go to your locker and following you to your next class but they aren’t in your next class, can just sound petty.  Most of the teachers I told said that I was just interpreting their behaviour wrong or for me to just grow up.  And that’s because they just don’t understand that bitchiness hurts and is hard to stop.  Identifying this and all types of bullying is key to stopping it.

3.       Why?

Most of the bullies that I have encountered they either suffer from issues at home or have reasons (not always directly linking to the victim) for why they bully.  Some have been bullied at home by parents or siblings, are acting by rumours they have heard or from friends and jealousy.  None are justifiable for the bullying but it helps to understand why.

Identifying and fixing the biggest question of all – why, is the greatest milestone of stopping individual cases of bullying.  Though it is the greatest achievement, it is often difficult to discover.  In some circumstances it is embarrassing, not yet understood or they are found out to be wrong.  As an example, in grade one I was bullied by another girl and it started because she was being bullied and abused by her mum.  Now, what she was doing to me wasn’t acceptable but it helped to explain why she was acting in the way that she was.  She clearly wasn’t cared for or had any control over her own life and so she needed to inflict the pain she was on me.

Questioning and attempting to understand the thought process of the bully can also be hard for them as speaking their reasons aloud can be embarrassing on their part.  Now, embarrassment isn’t always the solution but it aids in ceasing the bullying.

4.       Enforcing punishment and change

I don’t always source complete agreement on this point, however, I believe enforcing stronger punishment is crucial to stopping bullying.  Solving the root of bullying, which I addressed above, is the real solution to stopping bullying though this process is time consuming and in the meantime, we solve the more immediate issue with direct punishment – showing that for every action there is consequence.

As an example, I came out of the gym one day to the sports notice board.  For a couple of days, photos from our school touch football team were on the board and there happened to be one of me about to pass the ball.  As I walked out towards the board a group of girls from my team were standing around the photo of me.  When they saw me, they looked back, giggled and walked away.  The photo of me was now a photo of my body with my head ripped out and in the team photo, my face was scribbled out with pen.

Nothing happened to those girls.  The photo was simply taken down and replaced with a new one after I reported the incident.  These girls continued their parade with refusing to pass the ball to me on the field and different tactics to get me out of the team.  There was no punishment.  No consequences for their actions.  In this incidence, immediate punishment would have stopped their behaviour.  The school instigating that they will not play any games until their torments stopped.  I can almost guarantee I would have no longer been bullied if quick enforcement of the rules had occurred.

More action needs to be taken to bring an end to bullying instead of pitying the bully for the punishment that they might get or giving them one more chance when they have clearly abused the amount of rope you have already supplied them with. In cases like this, how much the victim suffers and will continue to suffer without punishment towards the bullying, is far worse than small punishment for poor behaviour.

5.       Becoming real.

Many teachers, parents and adults don’t like to believe that the perceived Good Girl is oh so bad.  As parents, I can imagine it would be hard to think that the son or daughter you brought up could not be the person that you thought they were.  Though, it is better to make small admissions and fix their behaviour than letting it continue and escalate.  At my last school, they refused to admit that girls were bullying each other and preferred to live in a perfect world of perfect people.  Such action caused the dux of their grade, most valuable hockey player, needed touch player for the undefeated team and competitor in swimming and athletics to switch to a different school.  Just because they didn’t become real.

Having pictures around the school with a big, red zero around it does not stop kids from bullying.

Bullying

These sorts of posters. They don’t help.

If schools think this is a good enough solution to bullying then they are very stupid and frankly, partly responsible for bullying.  I have witnessed first hand the commence of “Bullying Awareness Week” and having a discussion in class about actively trying to stop bullying, and kids walked out and impersonated and bullied a boy in our class.  Bullying awareness isn’t the answer.  It also isn’t completely invaluable.  It helps in some aspects of bullying, but it does not solve it.  When the world works this out, so will bullying.

Have you been bullied?  Was it fixed?  If so, how?  

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I love my sisters. It doesn’t mean I get to see them.

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BY ABBY MAC

When I say sisters, they’re not my full sisters.   I sometimes say step-sisters or half.  Though, to me, it doesn’t matter whether we don’t share the same blood or family tree, they are still my sisters.

I dearly love my sisters and everyday I cherish the moments I did get to spend with them, however, just because I love them doesn’t mean I can see them.  Just like my dad, I haven’t seen my sisters for four years and that isn’t going to change in the near future.  The eldest of my two sisters is eight and the yougest is five.   My brother has had brief contact with my dad and he says that the eldest one remembers me and the youngest one doesn’t but she knows of me.

Every Christmas and birthday I receive a card from them and I rip open the envelope, shut the door to my bed room and sit and have a cry.  I sit and cry a mixture guilt, love and sadness.  I feel guity for not being with them, watching them grow and nurturing them.  I am sorry for not being the sister I should be.  I can only watch both grow through their handwriting skills, from just scribbles to carefully copied dotted lines and now legible writing that slides downwards.

The last letter I wrote to them I decided to add photos of my brother and I.  I know this may seem a minute step to most, but I never receive a reply to my letters where I ask a thousand questions.  The worst they could do is not reply and possibly stop talking to me forever, but I was willing to take the chance.  If they accepted this step, it would hopefully see the end to my unanswered question and a progression in our relationship.

I know that it is not their choice to not reply.  I understand that is my dad and his wife that limit the contact but it still hurts to never hear anything back from them.  When I decided to not see my dad anymore, it wasn’t a hard choice.  Part of our difficult relationship stemmed from his new family and he preferred to spend time with the girls than me.  For a long time I resented them over his choice and so when I left, I was definitely saddened that I couldn’t see them anymore because I did love them, but I did think that I could move on from whatever a one year old and ten year old could share.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

As I grew up, I found that I did not resent the girls, I resented his choice to priortise them over me.  I no longer resented my sisters but deeply missed them and felt a sense of guilt from choice to leave them.  Even now, I would still choose to not see my dad but I know the decision would be harder for me.  I know that if I stayed with my dad, I would have continued to become an angry and unhappy girl which is something that would be hard to undo however, I hope that I will one day rekindle a relationship with my sisters when they aren’t influenced my dad or his wife.

A part of me understands that there will come a time where we won’t talk.  I am predicting that my dad will try and persuade them to lose contact with me and he will tell his side to the long and complicated relationship we had.  Though, I do hope that they will want to one day find out for themselves what really went down.  That is something I have to accept.

Everyday I miss my sisters more and I will never stop caring and loving them.  I feel like I should be painting their nails and combing their hair.  Helping them with school work and talking about movies, friends and boys with them.  But I can’t do that.  I don’t know what school they go to, what type of clothes they like or want sport they both play.  I sometimes feel as though I have failed them.

For the first time yet, the girls have replied to my letter.  They sent back photos of themselves.  As usual, I cried.  I stuck the photos up in my room and I feel grateful for what I have now been granted.  I know that the youngest one has brown curly hair and the eldest likes tie dye clothing.  It’s minimal information, but it still feels like too much.  I can now compare how much they have grown from the images of the their baby faces in my mind, to their now grown-up ones.

Even though I love my girls to pieces, it doesn’t mean I get to see them.

From one the cards the eldest sister wrote to me:

‘…Dear Abby….I miss you so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much and I will love you forever.   I can’t wait until I can see you again…roses are red, violets are blue and I will never stop loving you.’

Accompanied by a beautiful drawing of the day we see each other again.

Have you been separated by a loved one by choice? Do you still keep in touch, if so, how?  How do you feel on this topic?

We have a different opinion. Can we still be friends?

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BY ABBY MAC

Is it possible, as teens or at any age, to be friends with someone and have differences of opinions? Not just a difference of opinion on a dress or a boy, but on a topic that you are passionate about or directly affects you. Many people often believe that you must be perfectly in sync with all your friends and all share the same opinions and same values. At some time, this delusion of perfect must be corrected. No two people share the exact opinions and values and so therefore no one can be your perfect match, in that aspect.

I watch friendships at school somersault into the depths of no goodbye just because they don’t agree on something or other. They attack each other, not their opinons or reasons. They say things that you can’t take back. Is that really necessary? I try to respect everyone’s opinions, but I often fall flat in respecting their arguments. Uneducated, ignorant arguments make me angry and it is these opinions that I can’t respect.

Difference in Opinon

Can we still be friends? Help.

I was sitting in class and a friend of mine whispered under her breath ‘ew’.
I looked around and said ‘what’?
‘Gays.’
‘What about them?’
‘They’re disgusting.’
‘Why?’
‘They just are.’

Uneducated. Ignorant. And I was angry. This is a fight I decided to pick. I often choose to leave an argument before it starts because it doesn’t affect me or it’s just not worth fighting about, but this one was worth it. I feel very passionately about equality worldwide, whether it is between men and women, adults and children, wealth to poor or homosexual to heterosexual. I believe that everyone is born with equal rights and they deserve to be treated with that respect.
So, as you can imagine, my friend unjustly commenting on homosexuality left me annoyed. Her opinion on homosexuality did not stem from her religion, culture, family up-bringing but her fear and ignorance to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender persons. She had no reason to hate them or be disgusted by them, but she did all the same. People’s opinions are formed by their religion, culture, family and friends, fear and ignorance. Especially when we are young, our opinions are similar to our parents because that’s all we know. At a young age, all we know is what we are brought up with but her opinion was only influenced with fear and ignorance. Not any other.

I was initially  angry about her opinion and at her. I needed to take a step back and leave it. I needed to sort through and find a position on the difference of opinion and whether it was worth our friendship, time or a fight. Of course, I considered all avenues and realised that it wasn’t worth a fight or our friendship. It was worth understanding, though. Both of ours.

I still don’t completely respect nor understand her opinion and her arguments. But that isn’t worth sacrificing our whole friendship. I try my best to educate her and possibly grant her an opinion that is educated and fair. Not necessarily my opinion or the ‘right’ one, but one that has reasoning behind it. I can’t stop being friends with someone because of their fear and ignorance but I can only hope one day to change it.

It’s difference of opinion which makes friendships diverse and not the same. I think friendship and life would be incredibly boring if everyone felt the same way.

Just as I did, I think one should pick their battles. Deciding to discuss a difference opinion of means you have to be respectful, just like they should for you.

Don’t you agree with me?

Can you still be friends with someone and have a difference of opinion? What do you disagree upon? How do you fix it? Why do you feel this way?

My dog’s my best friend.

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BY ABBY MAC

Zaakie Grass

My boy.

My best friend is perfect. He listens to everything I have to say, he never questions my opinions and traits and he always greets me with a smile. Unfortunately, he’s my dog. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that I’ll end up being that crazy cat lady down the street, or in this case dog lady, but someone else please tell me you feel the same way?

I have other really good friends, of course, who meet my needs of human interaction better than my dog, Zaakie, but he still never fails to make me smile every day. Zaakie calms me down, reads my emotions and manages to always be there when I need him. And I think I do the same for him. When he is frightened, he runs to where I am or into my room and that makes me feel very satisfied. Our friendship isn’t just me talking to a dog, he feels protected around me. When I’m sad he comes and lies me and when he’s sad, tired or being lazy he lies on me.

I really do love my dog. He’s my friend. He’s the best one I have. But he’s actually so much more than I thought. It isn’t just Zaakie who calms me down. He isn’t a special dog, in that, any dog can calm and soothe you. According to Elizabeth Scott, wellness coach, author and health coach, it’s often hard to resist calming down when you look into their adoring eyes. Pets can reduce blood pressure and help with your stress levels.

I know Zaakie does this. If he walks in and I’m angry, I don’t yell or show anger in front of him. It will scare him and I don’t want that. His infective personality is hard to resist and his big goofy smile doesn’t help. I watch him rip up toys and try to steal teddies from my room. That makes me laugh. He makes me very, very happy.

He may not be able to speak back to me, but he knows me better than any other friend. As I wrote earlier, when I’m sad, he lays on me. To non-animal lovers, that may seem disgusting but it’s comforting. How can you not obey to his demands; calm down and just pat him? Dogs have other benefits as well. They can encourage you to do exercise and get outside. Unless, you have a dog like mine and I end up pulling him home or just driving him everywhere.

Zaakie Sunglasses

I protect him from the sun.

But most of all, my dog loves me unconditionally. No matter whether you like to dance in your dressing gown and slippers to Mariah Carey songs…at 1pm in the afternoon, or you have no friends at school, your dog will love you. And that is one constant friendship and love in your life. Your friends can be so conditional during school, and there is nothing better than having one assuring friend. Your pet.

Zaakie is my best mate and there are days where I have a bad day at school and I just want to come home to Zac. It is his love and smile and dog antics that every day, make me love him even more. And, so on days where your assignments are getting a bit stressful or your ‘friends’ aren’t being friendly, maybe you should turn to that little obliging dog or cat who will always sit by you.

And if I am the crazy dog lady, at least my dogs won’t judge me.

Abby: Why I Deleted My Facebook Account.

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BY ABBY MAC

Facebook can connect us to friends and family all over the world. It allows us to share photos, videos and information about ourselves and as the viewer; we can like and comment easily on people’s lives. But for me, Facebook can no longer offer this glossy cover. As a teen, it has been infiltrated with hate, misery and falseness which is enjoyable to the people causing it.

I deleted my Facebook account for a variety of reasons but the biggest one was that some of the users, particularly teens, had lost sight of what the true purpose of it was. It was hard every day to see some form of bullying and sadistic comments from these faceless people behind their computer screens.

Media and other adults often portray the biggest threats online to be strange predators that are 50 year old men looking to find you, though they are serious threats, there are other predators which can easily be friends of Facebook; the people that you share your photos, videos and information with, every day.

For me, Facebook was no longer a place of sincerity but teens sharing their lives only to be let down and bullied by their ‘friends’ (friends on Facebook; not necessarily friends in real life).

It seems that your Facebook profile is meant to be perfect and glossy with perfect pictures of yourself, or stupid pictures of yourself which still make you look cute and sexy. But that’s not my life. I don’t take a perfect picture every time. When I look stupid in a photo, I genuinely look stupid not cute and sexy.

Un-Facebookfied

This is un-facebookfied. It isn’t perfect! But look! Do you like my pyjamas?

When I say ‘Facebook’ as a general term, I mean the Facebook world constructed by teens. Facebook, by teens, is no longer about sharing our lives, not the real ones anyway. It is a fake, perfected life for all those ‘friends’ to ‘hate on’ or ‘like’ and then ‘unlike’ only to be mean. You’re not meant to share the photo of you still in your pyjamas eating birthday cake at 9 am but in fact the beautiful, already ‘Instagram(med)’ photo with all your friends wearing high heels and way-too-short dresses in the city. Apparently, I’m unlike the rest of the teenage population on Facebook and don’t own a way-too-short dress (that I wear in the city at 9pm at night) and I don’t celebrate my birthday by taking enough cute and sexy photos to fill a real photo album.

This perfected Facebook life isn’t fair on the rest of us ‘normal’ or ‘unperfected’ people. People like me. People who then strive to have a perfect Facebook page. It became that a lot of photos I took and activities and I joined in on, were based upon what I could get out of it for Facebook. For instance, ‘If I go to this dance, I’ll be able to take these photos with my friends and then upload it onto Facebook’ or I went into this weird extreme place thinking if a photo isn’t good enough to be on Facebook, it was deleted. It didn’t matter whether it was going on Facebook or not.

Facebook-fied

That’s ‘perfect’. No, it’s just boring. My pyjamas were way cooler.

Fake photos, videos and the status updates don’t connect our lives to people. They only share very fleeting parts of our lives that are ‘Facebook-ready’ and are good enough to not be attacked online. The photos that girls put on Facebook with their flat tummies and beautiful bikinis aren’t real. They have most likely stood there for 50 or so shots, with either the peace sign, sitting down or pretending that they don’t know the photo is being taken to find the ‘Facebook-ified’ one. And my least favourite part – when they then have the caption ‘ew my bod is disgusting. just want to die.’ That’s not fair. It’s not fair on so many levels but the biggest one is, they have taken a photo of their beautiful body and then demean themselves in hope to be presented with 189 likes and 67 comments all saying ‘ew no. your bootfiul. i just want to die now.’ or ‘get some ugly.’ It’s these photos and comments which make the rest of us all sit back and be brain washed with all these beautiful girls saying their ugly and as a result, we are feeling twice as ugly as them.

It would be nice to think that Facebook is still living up to its true purpose in the teen world, but it’s not. I can’t stand the bullying and the falseness. People trying to be someone they’re not. Whilst we continue to be tricked that everyone’s life is just so perfect, we will continue to feel how imperfect we are.

Facebook is like a reality show; it’s meant to be real but it is just so fake.

Did you delete your Facebook page? Why? How do you use Facebook? Do you think Facebook is changing?

Simple Pleasures.

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BY ABBY MAC

In a world where we often spend years, or our life, searching for people or items that make us happy, I think it is safe to say, that we could so easily miss simple things that have the potential to make us the most happy. On Christmas Day, I saw so many simple pleasures, many were missed and others were appreciated.

They varied from the care and delicacy one took to wrap the gift (not necessarily the gift), to the true beauty of a meal or the presentation of the dinner table. They made me happy. They made me smile. And they were extremely simple.

Unfortunately, peoples’ lives are cramped with such meaningless tasks and planned pleasures that these simple pleasures can’t be enjoyed. We forget the people we love and dedicate our precious time to those we feel the need to please or will get us somewhere.

When my two cousins arrived on Christmas Day, I found my favourite simple pleasure. The girls arrived with a basket full of different dolls, craft sets and lip glosses, with dazzling smiles which only ever masks faces once a year. They made it hard not to smile at the sight of their grins.

They showed me each doll and why they were so special to them; they chased me with their toy cars and set up games for us to play. I think it was many Christmas’ ago which I was able to ‘play’ with my toys not apply them, wear them or soak up their smells and colours. And I thoroughly enjoyed those games only recommended for children aged 4-12.

Blingled

My Laptop was ‘Blingled’

After we played with all their toys, they asked me what gifts I was given. And so I listed the lotions, candles and gift cards. Most of that seemed rather boring to them, however they were most interested in what I was going to spend my gift card money on. BOXING DAY SALES, OF COURSE! It was then to my delight that the eldest one wanted to go shopping with me. And there was my simple joy. She wanted to spend time with me. Without a true purpose. Not because it was Christmas or a birthday, because we were two friends and wanted to spend time together. That was the most pleasurable joy of my day.

Simple pleasures are so spontaneous and spectacular which make them just so special. They’re missed for other, less important people or tasks, and aren’t often recognised for actually being pleasurable. How can spending time with a 12 and 7 year old be fun, some may say? It’s often presented as a chore, when really it shouldn’t be. It is your privilege to be together. As a family. Safely.

If I think back to when I was 12 and 7, I would have certainly embraced the idea of having a friend or family member, older than me, open to spending time with someone younger – not being a chore. My simple joys are very simple. My cousins feel free to ask for me to spend time with them. And I am more than happy to willingly do so.

Simple pleasures aren’t planned, they’re spontaneous. They’re pleasures which would never strike you as something you would enjoy or notice, however, when they do, they are the most pleasurable pleasures of all.

A Word From Abby…

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BY ABBY MAC

So, I know Jess has already wished you a very, merry Christmas but I think it is polite (and my pleasure) to wish all the Growing Pains readers a happy Christmas, whether it has just begun, lunch is being served or Christmas for you is another 365 days away. I am currently lying on my bed, with my mum fast asleep beside me and the boys are watching a movie which one of them was given for Christmas. Boring? For some. But it’s perfect for me.

Everybody celebrates Christmas differently and I think that is beautiful. Christmas is so wide-spread and understood, yet everyone has a unique was to enjoy it. Last night, we dined at a wonderful friend’s house whom my mother has known for decades and this morning we all woke at a reasonable (enough) hour, unlike Jess, to unwrap plenty of presents given to and by the family. Usually, we would eat out at a restaurant for lunch to save mum the hassle of preparing a dazzling, world-class meal, but this year I really wanted to stay in. I wanted a family-do, where it was just us and quite casual. Instead of devouring a spectacular lunch, we’re keeping it simple and having ham and cheese toasties for lunch… and then, for dinner, getting down to the world-class meals. That’s how we chose to do it this year.

Everyone interprets and chooses their way to spend Christmas, differently. Even the people in your own family. See, my grandmother spent Christmas Eve and morning with us and then madly dashed north-west to her other younger grand children. My brother is up at the crack of dawn and will happily sit at the end of my bed until I wake from feeling creepy eyes watching me. Jess – her family is different again. And so are our neighbours, friends and family. Christmas means something different to every person. Whether that be because of religion, age or values.

So, depending on all those different factors, how do you celebrate or spend Christmas? What do you eat? Where do you spend it? How many presents do you give or receive?

Oh, and no Christmas photos from me. I’m in my pyjamas and it is very early. Too early.

Merry Christmas, once again.

Christmas Presents for Friends?

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BY ABBY MAC

I have no hidden message. I am not trying to hurt you. I am not trying to tell you that I secretly don’t like you. But if I don’t get you a Christmas present, it’s because I don’t give out Christmas presents, anymore. The biggest cause of my reason to cease in the present giving, are the people whom I gave them to. So, I have decided to list my reasons why this present giving has just stopped, as an explanation to all those affected by my decision!

  1. It’s always a gamble in the selection of the present. For example, let’s say the person you’re buying for is a huge One Direction fan. Do you add to their memorabilia or is it better to think of something more original, instead of taking the easy option? Then, will they even recognise the thought and effort you have put in, to get an original gift, and not another poster of all the cheery One Direction boys looking at her while she sleeps? And, there it is. As soon as you feel worried about what your friend will think of your gift, is where the spirit of giving presents – the celebration of Christmas, is lost. The greatest present that we can give a friend is unconditionally showing them love, loyalty, respect and honesty. If you have really placed thought into their gift, then it truly is the thought that counts.
  2.  How evenly and thoughtfully do you give gifts? I always found it hard to evenly distribute presents to my friends. One year, I tried being fair and equally spending my money for about six or seven friends and buying similar presents. However, the fault here is that your best friend could validly expect a more valuable present than the girl who has only been sitting with you for the past two weeks. Actually, do you even give her a present?

After that dismal Christmas season, I tried prioritising friends and rightfully giving more valuable and thoughtful gifts to those who are most important to me and giving less sentimental presents to others. You’ve already figured it out. That girl who had only sat with us for two weeks wasn’t happy.

3. My efforts, money and value placed on the friend aren’t often reciprocated. I am not asking my friend to buy me a yearly pass to Disneyland (with return tickets), but is it wrong to ask that they at least put       thought into my gift? My answer is no. For example, on the last day of school I gave my best friend a framed photo (pricing: $40) which read inspirational thoughts, with the consideration that she was handling some difficult situations both in school and out. The next year, she presented me with a broken bath bomb. I DON’T EVEN OWN A BATH!

Bad Christmas Present
Have you ever felt this way before?

That is where it hurts. She doesn’t have to buy me something worth anything close to $40, but I am asking for something that shows the value of our friendship.

Too many times, this has happened to me. And, in most of the cases, within a month, we aren’t even friends anymore and she has a framed photo and I have a broken bath bomb. I no longer see the worth of giving presents when no one places the worth in me.

I know I seem like a heartless person, but I do feel comfortable with my decision. This year, I was given one Christmas present from a friend and that was chocolate advent calendar. I actually thought that was great idea and loved it!

I know Jess and I have opposing views on this, but the best Christmas present she has given me is sticking by me and being my friend. That’s my Christmas present, friends. I’ll stick by you and be your friend. And that’s the best one I’ll ever get.

Do you buy Christmas presents for friends? If so, what do you buy them and how much would you spend? Or, are you like Abby, and stopped buying Christmas presents? Why?

What should I buy for my friends and family for Christmas?

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BY JESS WRAY

Are you asking this question quite constantly during this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love any opportunity to go shopping for anyone really, especially myself, albeit, when it comes to this busy time of year I really get stuck for ideas and feel pressured to buy endless gifts for everyone. I have decided that I will not make this Christmas another time of just buying useless, insignificant gifts for my friends and family. This year I aim to narrow down my ‘to-buy-for’ list to only my close and dear friends and of course my family. By doing this I will not break my bank (the very small and delicate one that it is) and that way, my gifts will be more meaningful.

As Abby once told me, she is not a fan of buying Christmas gifts for her friends as she said, “You know, I don’t really think it’s right when you spend a fairly big amount of money($40) on a friend and then 3 months later, I receive a tacky gift from the dollar shop in return” and in some ways I completely agree and find that so relatable! Once I gave a whole group of girls that I considered friends, really nice, meaningful gifts and then you look back about 5 or 4 months later and you no longer even like these girls and you start to wonder, was it even worth it? However, as a girl and a human being, I love receiving gifts, and I’m sure most of you do too. My favorite kinds of gifts are small, sentimental ones. They make me feel special and mean so much more than a block of chocolate or an expensive scarf. Although, I will never reject those presents!  So when you think of it that way, even though sometimes we question our relationships and whether we should buy a gift for a person, think about all the good things you have done with someone or the priceless memories that you share and decide who really deserves a small gift of appreciation from you.

You will notice that I specifically said “small gift of appreciation” and I mean exactly that, Christmas gifts do not have to be extravagant, in fact, the more meaningful the better! This may mean that you get your best friend who loves shopping, a gift voucher from her most favorite shop or for your best guy friend who loves rugby you may choose to buy them a small rugby ball or even those cute rugby ball key rings for his school bag. Something small that they are able to keep and/or use forever and when doing so, will think of you. Well that’s my goal when I look for presents for each of my friends and it’s much more worthwhile and makes shopping a bit more challenging. Although in saying that, if you are like me and you often leave your gifts until the very last-minute and you are panicking and need a ‘cash and dash’ (as I call it) sometimes it is best to go to shops that your friends rave about or spend most of their time in. For example one of my closest friends is always talking about Miranda Kerr and one could say she is slightly obsessed with all the Victoria Secret models – but hey, who isn’t? So I decided that, since my friend also likes a lot of products for your body and health, I bought her a really nice ‘KORA‘ body lotion, which, if you didn’t know, is a part of Miranda Kerr’s new organic products collection. So effectively, you could say, I knocked out two birds with one stone! Go me!

It’s little ideas like this that can go a long way and can create memorable gifts that I’m sure anyone would be delighted to receive! After all, it may sound incredibly cliché and a tad cheesy, but it really is the thought that counts and if you don’t have a massive budget or have run out of time, a well-written, meaningful card will definitely suffice.

Shopping for Gifts

Oh and my advice is to get into the shops as early as possible because the shops are getting really busy and all the sale items are getting fewer and fewer as we speak! Or if you are an online shopper, I would also recommend making sure you find out how long it will take for your gift to arrive and if it takes a couple of weeks, be sure to order it as soon as possible! So to wrap it up I would like to wish everyone a ‘happy shopping’ for the next couple of weeks and hope that you have a lovely Christmas and find lots of prezzies under your tree!