Giving gifts that last!
Elizabeth Reinsch, PhD, LCSW/ACSW Human Development Specialist ReinschE@missouri.edu
I had the pleasure of having some of my family with me for this past holiday; it struck me that many of the gifts given and received probably wouldn’t be around next year. This led me to think about gifts that do not get broken or thrown out as so many material things do. The gifts of time, caring and appreciation can last forever in families, but little references are made to them. These are things that can be given anytime of the year, not just for the holidays. Following are several activities that University of Missouri Extension’s Building Strong Families curriculum identifies as things family members can do for one another just because they care.
• Make lists of things that make you feel loved, and share with one another. Spend some quality time discussing those things and how each family member might gift each other. Have "Caring Days" when each family member does one special thing for the others (such as back rubs, read a book, prepare a meal, or help out around the house). • Kindle kindness. This is just being thoughtful and considerate, even when you don't feel like it. Open doors, offer rides to those who need it, treat someone to lunch. Remember the old saying, "The more you give, the more you receive." • Share love notes. Everyone likes to be appreciated. Sometimes it's hard to say what's in our hearts out loud, but easier to write it. Short notes tucked in lunches, on the bed pillow or on a dinner plate may be just the small surprise that can make someone's day.
Special memories are often made when our families spend time together. Here are some ideas for scheduling quality time with family members.
• Dedicate one or two meal times where everyone in the family will be together. During this time be sure to share the happenings of the days, the highs and lows. This allows the family to stay connected in good times and in bad. • Plan time for "Just the Two of Us." Whether it's Mom and Dad, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, or brother and sister, take time out to be together to go for a walk, watch a movie, or ride bikes. One-on-one discussion offers the opportunity to share our deeper hopes and dreams. • Do some "Little Sprouts" activities. "Your kids can learn about life from gardening," according to the Building Strong Families curriculum. This is my favorite since I'm a gardener. One idea is to fill an old shoe with potting soil and plant grass seeds or early spring flowers. By keeping it moist for several weeks, you can see the new grass sprouting or the little flower starting to germinate. Or try sprouting spring bulbs indoors to add delight to a dreary winter's day.
Source: “Having Fun with Your Family 365 Days a Year: Family Survival Activities,” Family Strengths Handout #2, Building Strong Families, University of Missouri Extension. Available at http://extension.missouri.edu/bsf/