Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The joy of giving

In a conversation last week with someone about holiday gift-buying, my friend said that next year she wanted her family to give up their gift-giving tradition. Instead she wanted them to spend a little of the money they would normally spend on gifts at holiday time to take a summer vacation together that would be a gift of time to each other. Then during the Christmas season she wanted her family to decide together on one charity, or perhaps two or three, where they could give some more substantial gift than usual. Perhaps it would be food for a family. Or a large donation to some local or global charity organization. Or it might be clothing or toys for several local families in need.

What a wonderful idea, I thought. Many of us have all we really need—and then some—and our children and grandchildren do, too. I love the idea of teaching the little ones in our lives how much joy can be found in giving—teaching them by involving them in doing it rather than just telling them!

When my older grandchildren were small, we took a collection when we all gathered for Christmas. Adults put in larger bills, and each child emptied out her or his piggy bank. The children looked through a Heifer International catalog of animals for people in different countries and they selected some as recipients of our money. They were so excited at the prospect of a family making a living if we sent them honey bees or a goat or whatever our money would buy!

Have you tried some new gift-giving traditions? What was the result? I'd love to hear about it. Joy comes in so many forms, but surely when we can share whatever bounty we have with others, our joy soars to new levels.

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