ABCs of Life: What’s Your Gift To Graduating Youth?

June 4, 2010 How many graduating class invitations do you have piled up from folks you haven’t heard from in an eternity? I’m curious.

I’m at three, and trying not to ‘over-think’ the blinding incivility of those with paws out for paltry ‘gimmes,’ preferring to perceive this as simply a well-meaning announcement akin to those holiday cards detailing ‘the kids accomplishments’ in triplicate the fact you’ve not kept up in eons. (“Graduation Should Not Be a Fundraising Event”)

Entering my office I have a plaque that sums the ABCs of life in elegant, straightforward prose. (well, the X and Xeriscape had me stumped, but I couldn’t come up with a one word ditty that fit any better!)

ABC’s of Life reads: “Accept differences, Be kind, Count your blessings, Dream, Express thanks, Forgive, Give freely, Harm no one, Imagine more, Jettison anger, Keep confidences, Love truly, Master something, Nurture hope, Open your mind, Pack lightly, Quell rumors, Reciprocate, Seek wisdom, Touch hearts, Understand, Value truth, Win graciously, Xeriscape, Yearn for peace, Zealously support a worthy cause.”

This plaque is a meaningful favorite to reflect upon because it soothes me like a whiff of calming aromatherapy whenever I feel irked, slighted, stressed, bullied, dissed, frustrated or just plain blue.

I know Miss Manners might say something like:

…“Appear gracious in acknowledging the accomplishment with a card if you wish, but under no circumstances should you feel obligated to send a gift”…

…But I’m alluding to a more intrinsic conundrum which has been around for time eternal, which is now veering ‘over the top’ like so many other scenarios in our ‘reward the outrageous’ value system of pop culture.

What do you give to graduating youth that you barely know? If anything?

I Googled to find this 50 Graduation Gift Ideas post and dang near choked on my coffee before realizing it was in order of consumption aka ‘price is no object,’ and frankly it’s still landing on me a bit sour because I didn’t find anything of value until I hit the ‘economy’ section which was listed as $50 and below.

That’s economy? A $10 book card is ‘economy’ (not that I’d recommend it as a grad gift, but ‘just sayin’)—Though I did find Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ listed on Five Books to Give as Graduation Gifts to be kinda fun…In fact, I recall my most poignant grad gift was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to remind me not to ‘give and give’ until I’m worn and chopped down to a tree stump. (ouch)

Anyway, there’s a side of me that wants to simply share the plaque in the form of a poster or card or video (or something less expensive than a plaque) because I don’t want to ‘reward’ the lunacy of trolling for tokens…after all, these are people I do not intimately KNOW, with parents that clearly were ‘raised by wolves’ (yes, some are distant relatives who flunked ‘manners’)

Moreover, I think the rub is that phrasing “economy=under $50” sets an awfully high media and marketing benchmark that feeds right into a youth culture raised in MTV My Super Sweet16 expectations as well as virtual world coinage and consumption style.

With all the digital abuse and gossipy bullying bit, my other plaque pick for this generation of grads is pictured on the other side of my office (thanks, Andre Blackman, for plopping it in my Facebook photos when you were visiting here; it came in handy!) It’s universally appropo too, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” (I’m sure there are a few ‘mean teen’ types who could use those words engraved in stone to start anew elsewhere!)

On one hand, I’m thinking ‘sayings like these’ are the perfect tenor for an unknown recipient to impart a worldview beyond the pocketbook…What better way to  share a gift of intention and asset-based thinking for young people to remain positive even when negativity is knocking at the door.

On the other, seems like the recipient might be grimacing, ‘ugh, that’s so lame’ or ‘dang, no cash.’

Then again, maybe they’re the ones that need the message more than any other? Your thoughts?

Guess I’d better go read my own signage again. Exhale. Breathe. 😉

Related Graduation Posts on Shaping Youth

Media Moments of Expectation: From What to What? (8th gd grad)

Hey Grads! Free Gift for You! Josh Shipp’s 2010 Graduation Rap

Project Green Prom/Green Graduation-Teens Turning Green

Related Grad Posts/Parenting Teens Via Please Stop the

The Graduation Speech We Still Talk About (Sue Blaney/parenting teens)

Recommendations for Parents/Grad Parties-Proms by Jeff Wolfsberg

Portfolio of Reflections By Your High School Senior

Visual Credit for ABCs of Life plaque


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