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Fewer Gifts Under The Tree - A Good Thing

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.‘Twas three days before Christmas and all through mall the crowds were smaller and there were few lines to be found. Twas days before Christmas, there were actually parking spaces to be found, better yet without driving around. Like me, shoppers appeared to bypass those big ticket items in favor of personalized, smaller and less.

This year, many families will be downsizing their Christmas celebration because of economic hard times. Lowering material expectations can be a positive learning experience for the entire family, especially children.

First and foremost, parents should not apologize for not having as plush a Christmas as in previous years. They should be very frank with their children.

They should simply say it will be a new kind of Christmas, with no apologies. Apologies may aggravate the situation and increase the sense of guilt in youngsters, who often assume it was something they did that has caused them to get fewer gifts.

Actually, celebrating a more modest Christmas materially can be a blessing in disguise. It can be an opportunity for children to take part in the Christmas celebration more fully than ever.

Have a discussion about how everyone wants to celebrate the holiday. Talk about past Christmases and what each person recalls most fondly. Often, it is not the gifts people remember as much as the caring and feeling experienced. Emphasize those things that are valued most.

Choose personalized or handmade gifts crafted by family members for other family members.

This may be something as elaborate as a hand-knitted sweater, a piece ethnic artwork or as simple as photos or a book on healthy eating or money management.

Give something that’s already owned to another. A good example might be when a mother gives her heirloom pearl necklace to a daughter. It is good for families to get away from the idea that the word ‘present’ means iPod designer jeans, or a flat panel TV. Such gifts may fade away, but the gifts of fellowship and caring are kept for life.”


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