Christmas Giving

A woman laden with overflowing shopping bags squeezed into the last

available space in the elevator and muttered, “They oughta’ kill the guy who

thought up Christmas!”

“That’s already been taken care of, Ma’am,” replied a young man at the

back of the elevator. “They crucified Him.”

If you’re feeling annoyed at the thought of all the shopping decisions (and

dollars) that typically go along with Christmas giving, consider are some

alternatives to mall shopping.

• A Gift of Memories

Friends borrowed our video camera and recorded “A Day in the Life of

Heidi,” their 11-month-old daughter, as a gift to doting grandparents who

live several states away.

An acquaintance made a trip to spend time alone with his aging father.

They visited and photographed places that had been special to the father:

the old country school, the church he’d attended as a boy, the cemetery

where old friends and relatives were buried.

A special photo in a frame, an album of old photographs, or a collection of

family stories can provide hours of joy and reminiscing.

• A Gift of Time

Make a gift of coupons for a spouse, sibling, or parent, to be cashed in for

a whole spectrum of earthly delights after the holidays. My husband’s

coupon booklet included an overnight stay at a bed-and-breakfast and his

favorite homemade chocolate cherry cake.

The written promise of a year’s worth of monthly visits or weekly phone

calls to someone in a nursing home would generally be valued far more

than another box of chocolates.

A fishing trip (even if it’s not your favorite activity), or an afternoon of

shopping or garage sale-ing can make a wonderful present for someone

who longs for uninterrupted time alone with you.

• A Gift of Love

A number of years ago, as a stay-at-home mother of two preschoolers, I

confided in my husband that I’d always dreamed of becoming a writer. He

gave me a correspondence course in creative writing that began my career

as a freelance writer. It was his way of saying, “Follow your dream. I’m

pulling for you.”

Sometimes a simple letter of encouragement can mean a lot. Tuck in

a list of “Eight reasons I’m glad you’re my son/daughter,” or a letter of

appreciation to your mother-in-law.

And for the person who has everything, consider a gift to his or her favorite

charity: a national organization or a gift to a local needy individual on the

person’s behalf.

Is there someone on your list who needs a gift of time or love or memories?

Try thinking outside the box. Literally.

©Copyright, Sharon Sheppard, 2013