At our house Thanksgiving means more than turkey and pumpkin pie, though we like good food a lot too. Because sharing our blessings is an important part of our lives, we have made this into an occasion to help our family discover the joy of giving.
We began this practice several years ago when our grandsons were in junior high and high school, and we included their parents in the ritual so all of us around the table would be participants. After our plates are licked clean and the table is cleared we present each of them with a check for $500 with the instructions that they are to give the money away by Christmas. They are free to distribute it any way they like – to needy friends or to non-profits. All we ask is that they tell us what they did with the money. That is their Christmas gift to us.
I’d like to say the gifts are one of the best ideas we’ve ever had, but they weren’t our idea at all. We borrowed the concept from a friend who told us about it. Now we tell others because it’s too good an idea to keep it a secret. And we love hearing from friends and sharing their excitement when they tell us how they have adapted this idea to their own traditions.
The size of the gift doesn’t matter; it’s the act of giving that is important. If the kids had been younger when we started the practice, the checks would have been much smaller to be age appropriate. Besides, when they were younger we had less to give.
On Christmas Eve each family member tells what organizations or individuals they helped with their checks. It’s interesting to hear what influenced their decisions. Last year our oldest grandson said he really appreciates the fact that the checks give him the opportunity to be more generous than he could be otherwise at this point in his life. That was great feedback for us that our gifts will keep on giving – to us, to him, and to the recipients of his generosity. But the best gift of all is the fact that giving has become an important part of his life and his brother’s.
Judy & Dave Osgood