Do you ever feel like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life? Defeated by financial struggles, with each step forward offset by two steps backward? With the holidays approaching, the financial pressure continues to mount. Wanting to demonstrate love for our families, we easily succumb to the temptation of spending money we don’t have for gifts our loved ones don’t need.
Take a lesson from a financially strapped couple who gave priceless gifts to their six children last Christmas. It’s an idea that each of us could replicate.
Ester and Shawn Fry decided to write a letter to each of their six children (then ages 9,8,7,5,4,3) that celebrated what was delightful and special about each child.
The presentation ceremony made the letters even more memorable:
-On Christmas Eve, in the midst of a gathering with special friends, the Frys asked their children to sit in a row, from oldest to youngest.
-One by one, each child was asked to stand, and the parents read the letter to the child. The letters focused on the meaning of each child’s name, and expressed what made that child particularly special. They highlighted the child’s most admirable character qualities. Each letter included a word picture that helped to clarify the beauty of the traits they were affirming.
-After they finished reading the letter, they presented each child with one small gift that was symbolic of one of his or her most beautiful attributes. They explained the meaning of the gift to the child.
-Friends and family cheered for each child after the letter had been read and the gift had been presented.
You might be wondering what gifts were chosen to represent various character qualities. Here’s what these resourceful parents selected:
For McKenzie (9): “Your good character shines like the morning sun.” McKenzie loves to dance and perform. Her gift: a shiny baton.
For Noah(8): Determined and creative, Noah demonstrates resourceful determination and creativity. His gift: a multi-tool hammer.
For Mayah(7): Born in the front seat of the car on the way to the hospital, Mayah has always been excited about life, and is strong and courageous. Her gift: a watch, with the encouragement to enjoy every moment of life.
For Eli(5): A sensitive and thoughtful child, Eli has the ability to notice things that others don’t see. His gift: a magnifying glass.
For Reuben(4): A lover of order, Reuben is strong and encouraging, with gentle determination. His gift: a compass, with the reminder that God has a direction for his life.
For Luke(3): A fearless little man with a gentle and big heart. His gift: a huggable, stuffed teddy bear.
Did the preparation of these letters and selection of gifts require an investment of time? Definitely. Will the children remember this Christmas? Forever.
Have you found a special way to affirm and celebrate the uniqueness of the children in your life?
Please share your creative ideas with us!