A Christmas wish for you

What to give for a Christmas gift? Gifts are a joyful thing, so giving — as well as deciding what to give — should have meaning and not be painful. But, reality often steps in and makes things a bit harder.

I’ve discovered some of these realities, as I am hopelessly out of touch with what clothing styles, music, or trendy items would make my kids happy. Maybe I could get somewhere in the ballpark, but why go through the pain of a crowded mall to get something they’ll likely want to return because I got the wrong color or size? Then they, too, are stuck in those lines at the mall.

I admit, I take the cop-out and just give cash. It is, after all, something they always need more of, and parity among the kids is easily solved that way.

Then there’s the reverse. “Hey, Dad, what can I get you for Christmas?” This is also a challenge. I try to stop buying things a few months prior to the holidays to create a legitimate wish list. The reality, at this stage in life, is that I have fewer material needs and more money. Frankly, if I want it and it’s not much money, I buy it. If it’s a lot of money, well, I’d love a Ferrari, but it’s too pricey for the gift list.

What a parent of grown children really wants is their time. The visit means more than the gift. Nothing beats family vacation time, even in small doses.

How about a gift that says, “Dad, I know you can buy whatever you want. I want to give you a stroll on the beach, just you and I, or I want to sit by a campfire and hear about (whatever) with you,” perhaps with a commitment to time and place. That’s the kind of gift a parent loves.

Alternatively, there is also the gift of letting me know they are developing well. Don’t give me something. Instead, divert it to a charity.

What parents wouldn’t be thrilled to have their child donate to a worthy cause in their name? It would show compassion, thought, and responsibility. They made it as adults, not just in survival, but in mission. I can’t imagine the joy of a card saying, “Thanks for giving me a good start. In your honor, I have decided to donate the amount of … to feed the poor. I know that’s always been important to you.”

My wish to my readers is similar to my wish for my family. May the holiday season, Christmas for me and whatever holiday tradition you prefer, be filled with love and celebration. May you find opportunities to share time together and joy that brings.

My life’s work, in addition to raising my children, has been to share with you, the reader, ideas for adventures and getaways — not just to see the world and its fascinating beauty, but to be a conduit of adventure to share with those you love. Merry Christmas.

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