'Activity' Christmas Gifts

By Dr. Robert Wallace

December 21, 2020 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: Our family has decided as a group to not buy anything for one another for Christmas this year due to the pandemic and the economic hardship our whole family is currently experiencing.

We've decided to make our Christmas gifts wherever possible and to perhaps come up with some fun activities to serve as gifts we can give to one another.

This is all just fine and great, and I fully agreed to it. I personally really want to take more dance classes, and due to the crazy situation we are in right now, I haven't been able to take a dance class for months.

I don't want to be selfish or anything, but how do I ask my parents to give me a dance class or two for Christmas as an "activity" gift? — Happy When Dancing, via email

HAPPY WHEN DANCING: Yes, you can ask for dance classes, but I'm not sure you'll get them in a class for personal instruction. And if you're thinking about attending a dance studio to take a class or two, this will likely be expensive and might defeat the purpose of keeping the household budget down.

However, there is good news! You can go online and watch YouTube dance videos that can help you teach yourself some new moves and ideas. Perhaps your "gift request" could be to ask a suitable family member or two to "attend" these online classes with you to keep you company and to provide everyone involved some valuable exercise.

Down the road, when circumstances change, I trust you'll find some opportunity to return to in-person classes. For now, I suggest you use online resources and make the best of it by dancing in front of your computer or television screen!


DR. WALLACE: Lately, I've been getting regular headaches and feeling bad, plus my vision has become blurry. We have been learning remotely on the computer, and often, I can't see the monitor clearly, and my head hurts after class.

I think I need glasses, but we don't have any insurance because my dad lost his job. What should I do? — Having Problems, via email

ANONYMOUS: You can do an eye exam yourself by following the following simple instructions. Print a free eye chart on a regular 8-by-11-inch piece of paper. Measure the distance of 10 feet from a wall in your home. Cover one eye, and have another person point to various letters and ask you to read them out loud. Keep track of which ones you get right and which ones you get wrong as you go through this exam.

The results will depend on the age of the person being tested. A 3- to 4-year-old should be able to read the 20/40 line, and a 5-year-old should be able to read the 20/30 line. Older children and adults should be able to read the majority of letters on the 20/20 line. Be sure your parents are aware of this test and the results you get from taking it.

If it turns out that you do need glasses or contact lenses, there is a place to turn for help. There's a fine organization that you can find online called VSP Global. Their mission is to provide access to affordable, high-quality eye care and eyewear to the world.

VSP often provides gift certificates for children in need with no-cost eye care and prescription glasses from a local doctor.

To qualify for this program, you must:

— Be 19 years of age or younger.

— Have a family income at or under 200% of Federal Poverty Level guidelines.

— Have not received care through a VSP program during the last 12 months.

— Not have vision care coverage through a private insurer or government program.

Have your parents contact your school's nurse to request a VSP Sight for Students gift certificate through the National Association of School Nurses, or contact the Prevent Blindness affiliate for your state.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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