I haven’t written an article about the holiday season for the Ohio Family Law Blog for a couple of years. At that time, I mentioned that this is certainly an appropriate time to reflect upon core values as well as memories of past Christmas celebrations and traditions.
In our family, we were very involved with a Christmas project providing gifts for needy children for many years while our sons were growing up. As a family, we spent countless hours working at the Center. We have tried to instill upon our family the importance of sharing and helping others. It is too easy this time of year to become consumed by all the shopping, decorating, numerous errands and superficial things. Focus can be lost on real matters of consequence, such as the meaning and importance of family. Regardless of one’s religious convictions, this is an excellent time to reflect upon our core values and aspire to do what we each can to make the lives of others around us better, even if it is in some small seemingly insignificant way.
This year we visited a local church hosting an Alternative Holiday Gift Giving event. This is a new concept for us. It was sponsored in part by Alternative Gifts International, a non-profit organization that inspires support for humanitarian and environmental causes. They offer donors the option to designate charitable gifts through carefully selected agencies in the name of their relatives, friends and associates. It was really a wonderful event! My wife and I brought our long list of family members we exchange gifts with. We then spent considerable time visiting each of the 40 or so booths all promoting charitable organizations or agencies from the Dayton, Ohio, area as well as throughout the United States and abroad. There was such a huge array of wonderful causes it was both mind boggling and heart wrenching!
We did our best to match the names of the people on our list with a cause that was in keeping with that person’s interest and personality. It was a lot of fun! But the best part was how it made us feel knowing that the small contributions we made to over 20 organizations were going to help the lives of people who were REALLY in desperate straits. It was nice that for each contribution made we were given a handmade ornament, a fact sheet about the specific charity or organization’s mission, and a holiday card with a thoughtful message to mail.
When Christmas comes, I know that my 13-year-old niece will be thrilled about her gift of a small fish pond and a vegetable garden to a rural school on the border of Thailand and Myanmar, where over 50% of those children are significantly malnourished. Likewise, my daughter-in-law’s dad, who is an avid outdoorsman, will smile knowing that he made a gift to plant 130 trees in Haiti to help ecological efforts and the Haitians recovery from the tropical storms and the 2010 devastating earthquake… I don’t want to spoil the entire gift list, so I will leave it at that. I hope you are intrigued enough to go to the website of Alternative Gifts International yourself and get some meaningful holiday satisfaction yourself by clicking here.
Another idea, if you get hooked on this concept and have a child between 9 and 12 on your list, perhaps you might consider buying a book titled “The Good Fun Book” by Karen Duncan and Kate Hannigan Issa. It is a gift in the real sense of the word because it can help us turn the “gimmes” into giving; it serves as an antidote for extravagant children’s parties; and at the same time, it really provides lots of “good fun” for kids and adults. For each month of the year, the authors suggest activities where kids can give to others, can make things, and can find out about real people who have created efforts to do good. Take February–children are inspired to have a Valentine’s Day party where they make Valentine’s Day cards for children in local hospitals and make care boxes for children at local crisis centers or shelters. They can read about two people who have made a difference–Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley. After visiting Africa and seeing many people in dire need, Flannery and Jackley created Kiva, a micro-lending website where children and adults can select struggling entrepreneurs and lend them some money for their business ideas, such as a banana seller in Uganda who wants to build a house. These are loans, and thus are repaid–so if your child lends $25 dollars, he or she will get it back and can reinvest it in someone else. A cool concept. Click here to read about “The Good Fun Book” or to learn where you can order it.
I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. May it be one of the best ever!
© 2010, Ohio Family Law Blog. All rights reserved. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. The use of this feed on other websites breaches copyright. If this content is not in your news reader, it makes the page you are viewing an infringement of the copyright.
Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.