Gift Giving This Year

Reader Contribution by Shawn Hosford
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Several weeks back, one of my dear friends, readers, and book editors forwarded me an email with information about a few charities and how they spend people’s hard earned donations. It reminded me of an article a boss sent to me years ago and a conversation my stepfather and I had when I was much younger about his research into the irresponsible spending of the Red Cross and AARP. During the past few weeks, our mailbox has been littered with donation envelopes. Because it is the season of asking and receiving, it seems a good time to do some investigating into where all our December dollars and donations end up.

For many years, our family has attempted to find our way to the most useful holiday gifting. My husband and I have decided on years of no gifting, regardless of the fact that I have often changed my mind before the 25th, and failed to notify him of that change. Other years, we’ve made big proclamations that all gifts should be homemade, books, or donations to charity, and not all family members held up their end of those agreements either. Regardless of the specifics, most every year we spend some time as a family considering what we should do about gift giving, and about where to spend our money with the most reward to all.

This year, I had hoped to give small local sustainable gifts to friends and family who would be dropping by during the holiday season, donate in honor of others, and give gift certificates of experiences to some; but that dream will necessarily be placed on hold until next year. Having until recently been unemployed for six months, and with Mark and I working toward a goal of freeing ourselves from credit, this year, I am saying “no gifts,” for the most part, and meaning it.

I know as we age, many of us find we need less stuff. Mark and I started giving experiences to each other many years back, and these gifts have formed some of my most cherished memories. There was a trail ride with our rental horses Teddy Bear and Dakota, and the hot air balloon ride that I had been wanting to try all my life. These memories made with Mark will be in my heart forever, and I wouldn’t think of trading them in for something more material.

So this year, in the time I would usually set aside for gift planning and shopping, I will instead start a file of experiences, good hard-working charities, and local artisan-made and handmade food treats that I will look forward to gifting to loved ones next December.

What gifts do you buy for your loved ones? What charities do you give to and how do they spend your money? How will you celebrate this holiday season?

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