Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Giving Gifts, Not Presents

I really believe that the best gifts aren't bought in a store.  If you are having trouble finding the perfect gift for that certain someone, check out this list of great last minute gifts that anyone can give.

The Gift of Time
For the past few years, my cousin has had my children over for pizza, a Christmas movie, and cupcake decorating.  That is their Christmas gift.  I think it is great!  However, I'm not the only one, my children look forward to it all year.  Despite all the other presents they open on Christmas, the only one they talk about all year is this simple get together.  It isn't the pizza and movie.  It isn't that the party is a lavish, over-the-top bash.  It is simple as simple can be.  What they like is the time they get with their "aunt" and cousins.  Is there some special time you could spend with someone special? Watching a movie, going for a hike, making ice cream sundaes, playing ball in the yard..the time will be the best gift you could ever give.

The Gift of Experience
As a general rule, we are not a family that gives big gifts.  Some of that has been due to financial constraints, but also we know money can't buy happiness.  Each year for our children's birthdays, they get to go on a special family trip.  We have been to museums, aquariums, historic trains (lots of historic trains), Medieval Times, and so many other places.  We don't give them all the same trip, it is their chose.  Some trips are big, some are small.  This year, Buddy wanted to go apple picking with his Aunt Kathy (who lives in Texas but was visiting) and have cider and donuts.  Almost six years ago, we were gifted with the use of a townhouse and took Cowgirl on her dream trip to Williamsburg, VA.    We have spent $30 to $300--but the real riches are the time we have spent together.  These trip shave opened opportunities to our children that have taught them so much.  They have also forced us to plan special family days that we would never take the time to do otherwise.  We don't buy souvenirs or go out for fancy meals--unless that is part of the trip plan--but the days are always treasures for all of us.  Is there a special place you could take your child or aunt?  Have you been to an art museum lately?  Has your love done ever attended a Jazz concert on the green?  Pick a special place, set a day and spend the day experiencing something new while you enjoy each other's company.  The memories will be priceless!

The Gift of Tradition
My mother was a person who lived for her family and holidays.  her house was not just decorated, it was decked out in every way and every room.  Through the years, many traditions arose around those decorating patterns, which by the way were for EVERY. SINGLE. HOLIDAY!  Unfortunately, Cowgirl was the only grandchild to have known my mother when she was still healthy, and was only a pre-schooler when she became ill.  She remembers but she doesn't.  All of the children are missing Grandma, and it got me to thinking about how much they missed of Grandma and all she would have done with them.  One of the many traditions, when we were small, was to make and decorate salt dough ornaments each year.  I know it is one of those traditions that would have extended to the grandchildren.  So this year, I am having my nieces and nephews over for a salt dough decorating party. This way the cousins can spend time together and get to know their Grandma along the way.  Do you have a special tradition that has been forgotten?  A special recipe you could teach to the next generation?  Keep the love going and build those traditions, again.

The Gift of Giving
I have said before that on St Nicholas Day, my children receive a gift that must be given away.  A few years ago, we began giving money for them to spend on the needy in the best way they find fit.  It is completely up to them.  They spend hours with charity gift catalogs finding the best and biggest combination of gifts for the money they received.  Last year, I wanted to honor friends who had given us so much--not just in things, but in love and support.  What could I give them?  They needed and wanted nothing.  So, I had a bio-sand filter built in their name and they were thrilled.  Their gift will keep on giving and bless so many, no doubt that gift will earn them some riches in Heaven as well.  Does your loved one have a favorite charity?  Is there a special project that you could contribute to and then visit with your loved one?  Or is there a charity that offers "gift cards" so they can pick the gift?  Their gift will bless not only them but those who receive its fruits.

The Gift of Prayer
We often think of Mass cards as gifts to give to grieving families, but there is no one who is not in need of a little extra prayer.  Mass cards are a simple way to honor your loved one and give them an everlasting gift.  I have given these for many birthdays, and even the children who have received them have been so thrilled to know that they are being prayed for.  Does your loved one have a devotion to a particular saint?  Find a shrine for that saint and request a Mass remembrance card.  Not sure about giving a Mass card, or your loved one is Christian, but not Catholic?  What if you create a Spiritual Bouquet, promising to offer certain prayers and devotions on their behalf?  Prayer is a one size fits all gift that is wealth beyond wealth, despite costing nothing but time and devotion.

I thought of this list because I have been searching high and low for a gift for my Goddaughter who is 14.  Tough age as far as gifts.  Nothing seemed quite right. I finally remembered how I always say it's not the buying that makes gifts special.   So, my gift to her is an "Adoration Dinner Date."  On a Friday where I can get babysitting (she is my go to babysitter), we are going to go out to dinner to the restaurant of her choice, then spend an hour at Adoration in prayer together.  Adoration is my favoirtie devotion, so this is really a combination of all five gifts--time, experience, tradition, giving, and prayer.  I am very excited to spend this time with her, especially the time we will have adoring Our LORD!

Do you have any gift suggestions to add?  I'd love to hear them.  I'm already planning for next year! 

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