Christmas gift develops into long lasting hobby December 8, 2016 — by Katherine Zhou Permalink It was a week before Christmas last year, and my busy parents hadn’t gotten around to buying presents. I took the opportunity to send my mom my Amazon wishlist — at the top of the list read “a ukulele.” I added this to my wishlist on a whim. One day while browsing through Facebook, I came upon a cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” by “Nix // uuuuuuuukewithme,” a college student who plays ukulele covers in her spare time, shared from her YouTube page. I found myself binge-watching her videos and reminiscing about my music classes in middle school, in which I myself was able to create covers of popular songs. Since my mom swore off instruments as presents after my younger sister never touched the guitar she received as a gift, I hoped I would get my wish, though I did not expect to get one. When Christmas arrived, I ran upstairs, excited to see what gifts were waiting for me to open. I picked out the gifts that addressed to me, but was slightly disappointed that none of the boxes resembled the curved shape of a ukulele. But I was wrong. One of the large square boxes contained a ukulele with mahogany wood and white strings. The day after Christmas, my family took a road trip down to San Diego for a vacation. To me, the vacation was a perfect time to bust out my ukulele and play it at every chance I get, including every food and restroom stop. I was obsessed with my ukulele, teaching myself 15 songs within one week and even FaceTiming my best friend to play them to her. I loved how quickly I was able to sing along to my favorite songs, because many of the songs were so easy to play. As junior year continued, I was worried that I wouldn’t have time for my ukulele because of the overwhelming and stressful amount of work to get done on the daily. After all, I’ve dropped several of my hobbies such as knitting because of school. But during second semester, I continued to practice my ukulele. I found that strumming the strings of my beloved instrument and belting out cheery tunes helped me escape the stress of school and be at peace. To this day, I play my ukulele nearly every day, and it makes me genuinely happy, reminding me that great gifts are ones that keep giving.