Every Christmas I have the same dilemma-what gifts do I give to my family? Like an episode of Hawaii Five-O, I begin an investigation to discover the perfect gift. Moving from person to person and place to place I make quiet observations and ask not-so-subtle questions in search of a gift that is desired, needed, and useful at the same time. This year I think I hit the jackpot. My investigations have uncovered 5 gifts, all needed and desired, that family members will love and enjoy all year.
Eat dinner with your family as often as possible. Turn off the TV, don’t answer the phone, gather around the table, and share a meal together. Eating as a family keeps the doors of communication open. In addition, teens that eat frequently with their family are three-and-a half times less likely to abuse illegal drugs. Girls who eat with the family five or more times a week are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits. And, eating together can be fun. You can talk about the day, make plans for upcoming events, joke around, share funny stories and memories, and learn about one another’s interests. Eating together is a great gift with great benefits for the whole family.
Have a regular date night with your spouse. The strength of your marriage sets the standard for honor, grace, and celebration within the whole family. How we treat our spouse influences the intimacy and respect shared among the whole family. When children see their parents going on a dates and genuinely expressing love to one another, they feel safer and more secure. So, a great gift to your family is to make your marriage strong. A regular date night with your spouse gives you the opportunity to talk, have fun, and grow more intimate. It tells the whole family that relationships are important.
Have family fun nights at least two times a month. Get together with your family for an evening of fun and games. Families love this gift. And, it provides the opportunity to teach important social skills, academic skills, and family values in the midst of laughter and play. I know I learn better when I’m having fun. Family fun nights provide the added benefit of building closer family ties. In fact, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation” (Plato). All this while engaging in a fun, relaxing activity.
Encourage each family member in public and private forums. Encouragement expresses your love for that person. Even God recognized and encouraged His Son. The Gospels tell us of three instances in which God acknowledging and encouraging His Son in a very public manner. Encouraging our family members will help build their self-confidence, confirm your loyal alliance, boost their know-how, and strengthen your relationship. Gifts don’t get any better than this.
Take a genuine interest in what interests each family member. This gift is often overlooked, but is still a tremendous gift. Take the time to learn about something that interests your family member. If they enjoy music, learn about the music they like. If they enjoy cooking, learn about cooking and cook with them. If they enjoy the ballet, learn about the ballet and go watch a ballet with them. Whatever the interest, make a genuine investment in learning about that topic…not because the topic interests you but because your family member interests you. This gift will enrich you, your family, and your relationship for years to come.
Wrapping these ideas in a homemade coupon book that includes a coupon for each of these gifts will bring a smile to anyone’s face. It will definitely provide a gift your family will enjoy for years to come.