A New Look at Family Gift Giving Traditions

While reading an article on mindful gift giving, I realized that some of the best relationship advice during the holidays is to take stock of inherited traditions. What worked at one time, may not work as well anymore, especially regarding gift-giving. Many families debate, anguish, and obsess over the best way to give gifts. Pick names? Only books? Hand-made gifts? 

One family I know recently came upon a good solution for them. It started out with a discussion about the gifts that the Three Wise Men brought the baby Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and what the meaning of those gifts was. This led them to discuss categories of meaning for their family’s gifts and eventually they settled on the decision to give each family member 3 gifts, each with a specific meaning. The first gift would be a gift that was longed for, desired, hoped for- something special. The second gift would be something needed, practical, and useful. And the third gift would something that would help the person learn, grow, or advance their understanding of themselves, others, or the world around them.

While you are debating the value of gifts in your own family, take a moment to stop, breathe, and relax into the spaciousness of a true giving spirit. Think of what you want to communicate to your children and others in the family about giving and receiving, and give yourself permission to change the game, if it warrants changing. Brainstorm with the family about ways to help and give to others who may not be as blessed as you are and in doing so, perhaps start a new family tradition along the way.