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The Best Birthday Gift Essay

...Conflicting Setting in “SoWhat Are You Anyway?” For many years, African Americans have endured the oppression of white superiors, but have put up a great fight for emancipation. Over time, the segregation that once existed has diminished, but continues to live on in the minds of some. In Lawrence Hills, “SoWhat Are You Anyway”, the setting is a key contributor to the conflict of the story in regards to equality now being instilled into society, an innocent Carole being targeted and demeaned for the colour of her skin, and the intimidating, curious nature of the Nortons. Following the Civil Rights Movement in 1970, Toronto and many other nations were slowly progressing towards making the world a haven of equality and independence. Whites were learning to perceive and treat blacks as an equal, and blacks were savoring their newfound freedom. In the short story, the Nortons bombard Carole with ignorant remarks using a blunt, over confident tone, but fortunately, the other passengers on the plane defend Carole, showing their acceptance for coloured people during this era: “‘Don’t touch her,’ the stewardess says. ‘Who are these people?’ someone says from across the aisle. ‘Imagine, talking to a child like that, and in 1970!’ One woman sitting in front of Carole stands up and turns around. ‘Would youlike to come and sit with me, little girl?’”...

The 2009 Holiday Gift Guide has suggestions for gifts from graphic novels to DVDs to theater tickets. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given or received — whether tangible or intangible? Why? What do you want to give this holiday season? What do you hope to receive?

Though The Times creates an annual roundup of gift suggestions in categories from cooking to travel to music, articles on holiday giving can also go beyond the material. This 2007 article from the Science Times looks at how giving can be a gift in itself:

Gift giving has long been a favorite subject for studies on human behavior, with psychologists, anthropologists, economists and marketers all weighing in. They have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Indeed, psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift. Frustrated by crowds, traffic and commercialism, people can be tempted at this time of year to opt out of gift giving altogether. A 2005 survey showed that four out of five Americans think the holidays are too materialistic, according to the Center for a New American Dream, which promotes responsible consumption.

But while it’s reasonable to cut back on spending during the holidays, psychologists say that banning the gift exchange with loved ones is not the best solution. People who refuse to accept or exchange gifts during the holidays, these experts say, may be missing out on an important connection with family and friends.

Students: Tell us about a wonderful gift you’ve given or received. Why was it so memorable? What do you most want to give or receive this year? Why?


Students 13 and older are invited to comment below. Please use only your first name. For privacy policy reasons, we will not publish student comments that include a last name.

Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.