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9 MIT-esque Gifts for your Non-MIT Family Members

If we must indulge in the consumerist traditions of the Holiday season, we might as well push an agenda. Here are some MIT-esque commodities that the family members that don’t understand what you study might enjoy. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll start to get the gist of what our program’s all about. Get these early and with ample time to ship so that you can practice your Holidays safe from afar.

1) Loose fitting denim jackets

For the Pets you love to anthropomorphize so much. Let Sparky and Tigger in on the a little style secret and give ‘em their very own jean jacket to complete the MIT uniform...Oh, and don’t forget the patches.

2) 24/7 by Jonathan Crary

For your siblings that buy into the ‘rise and grind’ ideology. If your bro and sis perpetually have ‘work, hustle, and make money’ on their minds without any regard for themselves and their own headspace then it’s time for this book. Especially if they are working from home it can be a huge struggle to set boundaries for when and how much they think about work. This book is the antidote. Plus, you could probably just re-gift the one you read for Meaning of Technology in second year. If not then support local bookstores!

3) News Subscriptions

For your ill informed ‘Facebook News’ junkie of an Uncle. If your uncle gets his news from any or all of Facebook, Rebel News, or the ‘chum box’ at the bottom of a webpage then it’s time for an intervention. Get him a six month subscription to the New York Times, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and maybe a local paper. Convince him to keep paying by guilting him into supporting the criminally underfunded and dying industry that you aspire to work in one day.

4) A “Dumb” Watch

For your metrics obsessed cousin that cannot seem to disconnect. If they aren’t on their phone they’re checking their watch, or worse, they’re counting some arbitrary metric like calories, seconds of sleep, milliliters of water, or their blood oxygen level -- because they know what that means. They need a good ol’ fashion dumb watch to disconnect them, and make them aware of the way they spend their time. I recommend this sleek one from Breda.

5) Movies that pass the Bechdel Test

For your Superhero movie obsessed teenage cousins. Last year at the Oscars only about half of the biggest films nominated passed The Bechdel Test which means it 1) has at least two women in it that 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man is an extremely pretty low bar to pass and it’s still not happening. Educate your young cousins on this handy test for the bare minimum of an equally representative film and gift a curated list of your favourites. I recommend one old (Girl, Interrupted), one new (Knives Out) one scary (The Descent), one funny (Bridesmaids), and one exhilarating (Mad Max).

6) The McDonaldization of Society by George Ritzer 9th edition

For your boomer Grandpa that loves to push your buttons about your conflicting political beliefs and push his back by giving him this incredibly digestible critique on late capitalist society. It’s never too late to switch your beliefs and this book presents a neat argument through a fun, though repetitive, metaphor of the Taylorist foundation of McDonalds and how it applies to the rest of society. It set me on my path back in highschool and introduced me to a lot of the theorists we study in FIMS. Support local bookstores!

7) The Condemnation of Blackness: Race Crime and the Making of Modern America by Khalil Gibran Muhammed

For your aunt that borders on the ‘Karen’ and could stand to be more anti-racist and informed on the issues that plague our society. This book starts to articulate the deep systemic racism that exists in our society. It provides historical roots and how they have been written into social policies. Might want to gift this one a little early before she says anything uncomfortable on the Holiday family Zoom call. Support local bookstores!

8) Framed ‘DIY’ Anarchist Cross-Stitch Pattern

For your Nana that is worth more than a trip to the store, or a few clicks on a website. She’s made you countless mitts, blankets, and hats via crochet so return the ‘do it yourself' favour and make her something she can prominently hang on her mantle. (For patterns and a ‘how-to’ guide check out and look for the blogpost by Grace Armstrong)

9) The entire backlog of OPENWIDE issues

For the parents that look at you in disgust and confusion every semester break anytime they inquire about what you learned over the course of the semester, and then ask you to remind them what your program is again. Hand them one of these, think of them as accessible little ‘academic-lite’ pieces that’ll give them a glimpse into what we’re all about in MIT. Spruce this surefire gift up next year by contributing an article or two to OPENWIDE!

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