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Is it time to panic?

The headlines will scare you into whipping out your credit cards and charging everything in sight if you aren’t careful.

There’s a supply chain crisis with hundreds of ships stuck offshore, unable to enter the California ports, where more than a third of U.S. container imports arrive. Toy stores warn of shortages. Businesses worry that shelves will be empty.

The Wall Street Journal announced, “Stores to customers: You are already behind on your Christmas shopping.”

The New York Times wrote, “Those Gifts You Want for the Holidays? Don’t Wait Too Long.”

The BBC reported, “Christmas will be safe.”

But will Chanukah? Chanukah kicks off early, starting Nov. 28.

Derek Thompson wrote for The Atlantic, “The world is getting a lesson in Econ 101: High demand plus limited supply equals prices spiraling to the moon.”

Maybe it’s time to lower our demands and plan for a different kind of holiday this year.

Maybe we don’t buy at all, or we buy differently.

This year, give a membership to the Children’s Museum Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo or the Mandel JCC to help your family have fun and stay fit all year.

Pay for someone to enjoy Disney +, Netflix or Spotify.

Give tickets to The Cleveland Orchestra, Playhouse Square or Dobama Theatre or a baseball, basketball or football game.

Take your kids tobogganing, ice skating or cross-country skiing.

Give a master class with Annie Leibovitz teaching photography, Yo-Yo Ma teaching music or Jane Goodall inspiring the gift of conservation.

Offer the gift of your own master class. Teach someone to knit, crochet, play piano or mahjong.

Buy someone a massage, Reiki session, pedicure or manicure.

Wrap up homemade breads, cookies or candy.

Give an adventure. Plan a trip to a national park this year or a different state park every month.

Deepen your family roots and buy a year of Ancestry.com or 23andMe.

Wander into small towns and buy from local bookstores, gift shops and artists. Purchase gift cards to restaurants and movie theaters.

Give the gift of time. Draw up a coupon to babysit, host a sleepover, pet sit or declutter the garage.

Gather up all your family recipes and turn them into a cookbook for everyone in the family. I did that for my mom and 10 siblings. We held a book signing in the dining room. Mom has been gone five years, but her nut roll, Texas chocolate cake and pig in the blankets will live on forever.

Gifts don’t have to be about stuff.

I have to admit I panicked at first about the shortages and bought the grandkids a few holiday gifts early. But the greatest gift I give them every year is something that can’t get stuck on a cargo ship.

It’s my heart. It’s my time. It’s my love.

I give each child a day alone with me, one they get to design. Every year, I draw up a menu of options and tailor it to each of my three grandchildren. At the top, I write “Gita Asher Day.” “Gita Ainsley Day.” “Gita River Day.”

Gita is what they call me. My first grandchild combined gramma and Regina and somehow came up with Gita. In Sanskrit, it means song. I love it.

I get out markers and try to write in fancy lettering and draw artsy doodles all over the margins.

We start with breakfast. I jot down their favorite places, Luna, Stone Oven, On the Rise, Duck Donuts and let them circle which place to eat.

I list a menu of morning fun possibilities: bowling, ice skating, board games or baking cookies.

Then I list lunch: Tommy’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Shake Shack or Subway.

Afternoon fun might be Putt-Putt, Memphis Kiddie Park, hiking, kayaking or Rollerblading.

Then I list dinner options: Mac and cheese, pizza, burgers, fries and nuggets.

We end with movie options and ice cream, Popsicles or lemon ice.

They love checking off what they want. Then we choose a beautiful day during the year and that child spends the entire day with me doing exactly what he or she wants. All. Day. Long.

They don’t know I tricked them. That day I give them? It’s the greatest gift they give me. Times three.

No matter what you give this holiday season, don’t forget that you are the gift, and so is the person receiving it.


Connect with Regina Brett on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. Listen to “Little Detours” with Regina Brett at reginabrett.com or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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