Let's face it, a big part of Christmas is giving and receiving gifts. It's even part of the biblical story of Jesus' birth. I've been blessed in that I've never had a Christmas where I couldn't give or receive presents. Some years have been more sparse than others, but never have I gone without gifts.
In my childhood, my sister and I would often go through the department store catalog and circle things we wanted. Or name our favorite item on each page. We always bought gifts with our parents' help for each member of our family. We learned early that it's fun to give and make someone else happy.
When I was ten, we moved to Arizona and soon some of our extended family followed. At our family Christmas gatherings, we'd exchange white elephant gifts, a tradition we still do to this day. Young children get gifts of their own and don't participate in this exchange. We let them decide when they want to be part of it. We draw numbers to see who gets the first gift. They choose what gift they want, and unwrap it for all to see. The next person can either choose a gift from under the tree or take the gift the first person opened. If he takes it, the first person chooses another gift from under the tree. It continues like this until everyone has opened a gift. It's fun to watch gifts get "stolen" from someone and sometimes they go back and forth several times. You never know what you're going to end up with. Great times with family and lots of laughs!
As a parent, we try to get our kids at least one thing they've asked for on their wish list and hopefully more than that. Now that two of our children are married, we often buy one gift for husbands and wives together. Sometimes it's a membership to an art museum or the science center. Other times we buy individual gifts. Some years we haven't had much money and made it a point to give homemade gifts. These are without a doubt gifts from the heart and are often cherished even more than the store-bought kind.
Another group of people I exchange gifts with is my weekly writers critique group, Tuesday's Children. Every year we have a Christmas brunch where we each bring food to share. Then we exchange gifts. We've made a tradition of giving a used book from our own book shelves.Some of us also bring a Christmas thought to share, either funny or serious.It's one of our favorite times together.
How do you do gift giving? Share your thoughts in the comments.