Dear Heidi: Can I ask my family to pick a charity to donate to rather than buy them gifts this year?
I love this idea of promoting a cycle of giving, rather than buying family members holiday gifts they may not want or use.
A charitable heart is always a treasure, especially during the holidays. I applaud your thoughtful idea to help someone else this holiday instead of giving gifts to your adult children. I hope that your act of kindness is met with the same philanthropic spirit and will inspire your adult children to seriously consider such a selfless act. For myself, I do not need any more things, and helping others, particularly during this anxiety-ridden year, seems especially appropriate.
However, please do not be tone-deaf. Maybe one of your offspring is in need this year. It's not unheard of considering so many of us are suffering. In this case, consider helping with the needs that fall within your budget. You could still donate to a worthy charity in honor of your family, while helping those close to you.
Your act of generosity could become a family tradition, carried on for years to come. My close friend raised her children with a generous heart. Her family “adopted” a family in need every holiday season and shopped together to fulfill the adopted family’s wish list. My friend’s children understood that buying gifts for the adopted family meant they would not receive as many gifts.
Yet, they were always enthusiastic and grateful for what they did receive. Even better, those children grew up to be philanthropic and have carried out the tradition of helping others every holiday season with their own families.
So, yes! By all means, start something extraordinary this year in lieu of traditional gift giving. You may end up teaching your loved ones a valuable lesson.