What do you buy a soldier for Christmas?

Everyone has asked me, as if somehow I will magically know the answer to this question: what does your sister, Sam, want for Christmas?

To put this in perspective, people have asked me this for the past 19 years, because nobody, not even my parents, usually knows the answer. She's always been a particularly difficult person to shop for.

Wait. Let me rephrase that. She is virtually impossible to shop for.

Out of the two of us, I have always been an easier person to shop for. I'll take anything pink, journalism-related, super girly, etc. That allows people the freedom to buy me almost anything in a mall. But Sam on the other hand, with her tomboy personality and picky preferences, my wish list for her can give me a headache.

That pegs the question: what do you buy a soldier for Christmas? More specifically, a soldier who's still in the U.S. and not deployed?

Here are my ideas:

1.) DVDs: I hate to say it, since they are kind of boring gifts, but for someone who can get lonely over at his or her base, DVDs are always an easy buy. They will watch them to relax in their downtime, and especially if your soldier doesn't have a car to get off base, they're perfect for an afternoon inside.

2.) Decorations: I'm not talking luxurious carpeting or pricy paintings, but really anything that would add a touch of home to a small space would be a nice addition to their room (permitting your soldier is not still in basic training). Buy your soldier some small Christmas decorations, maybe even some super funny, fuzzy animal slippers. Anything in this category would brighten the holidays for anyone.

3.) Keepsakes: This category to me would be the most fun to shop for or make. Put together a small, portable family album for your soldier, which you can even do online if your scrapbook personality goes missing. Buy him or her one of those electronic picture frames that flashes through family photos or anything of that sort. They'll appreciate it while they are at home or away and it can be brought overseas in case they are deployed.

4.) Exercise Essentials: If there's one thing everyone in the military does, it's physical training. That means a good, solid pair of running shoes is going to be crucial, and they don't come cheap, making them a perfect gift for the holidays. When your soldier is home, stop by a nice sporting goods store and pick out a pair. They last forever and they're worth the money. The same goes for a new bathing suit. If your soldier is going to have to work out in the pool, a nice bathing suit is definitely a must.

5.) Family Gear: Sam loves the bookstore at Mizzou almost as much as I do, so getting her something Tiger-themed or black and gold is always a good way for me to go. Buying your soldier something that reminds them of where their other family members are is usually a good bet. They relate to it, and wearing or holding those items make them smile. Whether it be something like a Mizzou hoodie or even a Chicago Blackhawks hat, either choice will remind them of home and their family they have there.

If your soldier's name is Sam, she's going to be particularly hard to shop for (because that seems to be a trait genetically wired in her), but don't give up on trying to make the holidays the best they can be for him or her. Soldiers are the reason we can all celebrate our holiday times at home.




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