GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION BY ESMÉ BLEECKER-ADAMS
On the first day of Christmas, I checked my bank account balance and had to sit down for a while. I knew that corporate America was depending on me to engage in elaborate displays of material affection during this most cheerful of months, but I simply didn’t have the means to protect Walmart from impending financial ruin for yet another year. I also knew that the semester had sucked the soul out of many a fellow fatigued Fordham student, leaving us spent in more ways than one.
With that in mind, I vowed I would embark on a quest to spread as much joy for as little money as possible this holiday season, and without ever setting foot outside the confines of the Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) campus. I hope that you will find these ideas useful in your own future gift-giving endeavors, and may your student debt limit your generosity no longer.
On the second day of Christmas, I started out at one of FLC’s beloved eateries: the Ram Cafe. While the food for sale there is seldom a bargain, there are plenty of less expensive items that make for excellent stocking stuffers; you just have to be a savvy shopper. I walked away with plenty of perfect presents: 12 empty coffee cups, an assortment of sweeteners, stirring sticks, some extra milk, drinking straws, a pile of napkins (the perfect substitute for wrapping paper) and a selection of plastic cutlery the likes of which would make both Williams and Sonoma proud. I got a few bemused glances from staff and students alike, but I paid it no mind; even Santa Claus was laughed at in his day. (“A jolly elf who delivers gifts? I’ll believe it when reindeer fly,” they said, and who’s laughing now?)
On the third day of Christmas, I took advantage of another essential Fordham institution: the bathrooms. If you’re in the habit of doing your business quickly and leaving, I don’t blame you, but upon taking a moment to stop and look around, you might notice a wealth of potential present opportunities to be found there. Soap, for instance, is a staple of the holiday season, which overlaps conveniently with the influenza season, placing hand-washing materials in high demand. Not to mention the handy toilet seat covers, tampons and paper towels — at the price of nothing, they’re a literal steal.
On the fourth day of Christmas, I collected forms from outside the dean’s office on the eighth floor of Lowenstein. Unfortunately, not everyone was excited to think about the intricacies of assorted overrides and verifications over winter break, so I ended up folding them into sleek paper airplanes, perfect for sending air mail between the two residence halls when your carrier pigeon needs a day off.
On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave out free campus tours. Eventually Admissions caught on to “an imposter in the ranks” (their words, not mine) and I was reminded that “identity theft is not a joke” and kindly asked to leave the premises. Still, I think the tours were a success overall. The experience garnered enthusiastic reviews from participants, including “but we already go here” and “the fire alarm demonstration was a little unnecessary.”
On the sixth day of Christmas, I went foraging on the plaza. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, these are dangerous woods, but it was worth it. Despite almost being run over by a stray commuter and barely avoiding eye contact with multiple professors whose final papers I had yet to submit, the day was productive. I didn’t find as many edible plants as I had hoped (turns out peppermint bark is not in fact made from real bark — who knew?), but I did come across some good-looking sticks, leaves and cigarette butts. “Just what I always wanted,” said my mother.
On the seventh day of Christmas, I recycled some of my class textbooks as gifts. There’s nothing like spending the holidays cozied up with a nice cup of tea and the complete works of Immanuel Kant. You’re welcome.
On the eighth day of Christmas, I set up a Friendly Smile and Nod booth in the lobby (at the recommendation of my PR consultant, who said that a kissing booth would be “not the right move for the current political climate” and “quite possibly a public health disaster”). After being asked “What are you tabling for?” several times, I whipped up a convincing cause. Something casual about atoning for the sins of humanity. I didn’t want to spoil the mood with anything heavy.
On the ninth day of Christmas, I decided to take up the holy mantle in earnest this time and provide the Fordham community with a much-needed sacrament: pest control. Baptism by Raid was an all-day affair, but I successfully wiped out some of the nastiest scourges of Fordham’s hallowed halls, from cockroaches to mice to memories of Robert Moses. I even came across a feral raccoon that had managed to make it down to Lincoln Center on the Ram Van, and without even paying the fare. Imagine the nerve!
On the tenth day of Christmas, as visions of recently cleansed closets and disinfected dining areas danced in my head, I was feeling in the mood for a celebratory drink. While champagne was a little outside of the budget, I found Fordham’s conveniently located water fountains to be a more than suitable alternative. In the spirit of spreading good cheer, I handed out cups of water to passersby and even serenaded a few people with a striking rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is a 3.0.” They couldn’t hear me through their AirPods, but they seemed impressed by my commitment to hydration.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, I gave out coupon booklets, which a few grateful members of our generation referred to as a “relic of the pre-digital past.” For those of you with an appreciation for delayed gratification (no, I’m not talking about the line for the package room), a selection of Fordham coupons can be found below this article for you to print and distribute to your friends. Just be careful what you promise (I’ve carried a few too many people up the stairs today).
On the twelfth day of Christmas, I admittedly found myself scraping the bottom of the sleigh. Not to fear: People love edible gifts, so I dug out the stash of free food leftovers I had saved from campus events throughout the semester. The pizza crusts of Fordham Fridays past were a tad stale around the edges, but here at the Jesuit University of New York, we don’t look a gift ram in the mouth.
After all, love has no expiration date, and it’s the thought that counts.