By Sherry Wright
Then it stops.
My husband and I asked ourselves if this was really what we wanted, a nano-second of the year to enjoy unfettered materialism. Don’t get me wrong. We love giving gifts and there is definitely a place for them. We simply wanted to give something more than a thing, more than a mass produced item. Something kind of unique and tailored to the person.
My husband suggested our own “green” gift-giving quite some years ago, and I’d like to share what we do. We listen and we watch. We try to figure out what our sons and their families “need” or wish for that we can provide during the following year. Then, using old cards, the computer, comics, etc., we create Christmas “gift certificates.” These coupons explain what we will do for them during the year at a mutually agreeable time. Sometimes they are riddles; sometimes they are rhymes. Or not.
What kinds of “gifts” are they? Generally, they are activities, chores, errands and so on that we know (based on what we’ve seen/heard) will come in handy at some point during the next year. For example, we have given the following gifts: silver polishing, dog-sitting, car detailing, a day of running errands, cooking/baking for a dinner party — among other things. And the conversations that these presents begin! We have a great time brainstorming when, why and even where they can “collect” on these promises.
But do not be mistaken about cost. Yes, this can be very inexpensive — or no monetary cost at all, a real advantage. Or it can be very expensive. (Take, for example, the Christmas coupon I gave for a dinner party for 6 to be served at their house!)
Yes, we still give them a few physical gifts, stocking stuffers, etc., a few somethings to open … but our family look forward to cashing in the coupons.
The important thing is to let your imagination work. Once you start really observing and listening, you will notice their needs or wants. What we give, truly, is our time. And we cannot get more time. It is a precious gift.