It's so easy to get caught up into the consumer oriented focus of the holidays, but as I get older I realize more and more that the perfect gifts are those of time, meaning and memory.
Growing up my family had the tradition of going to the movies on Christmas Eve – for my parents it was a way to pass the time for their anxious children, but for my sister and I it was just as exciting a time as Christmas morning. We still carry on this tradition even as adults.
Now as our family is spreading across the country and expanding with marriage and children, setting aside time to spend together is more important than ever. We're adding more traditions – my sister, my mom and I make a craft together (whether or not we actually finish it is besides the point), my stepsister and her family have a great hors d'oeuvre get together, and my dad and stepmother make a fantastic breakfast. I look forward to these things and count on them to make it through the holidays.
I'm not advocating against gift giving, but it's important to take advantage of one of the few times of year when families are all together. So, whether it's starting your own tradition, volunteering or just hanging out, giving the gift a time – with friends, family or even strangers – is sure to make meaningful long lasting memories.
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