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Re-examining Gift Giving Traditions

By Natalie Criscione


I have discovered, and perhaps you have too, that some people are peculiar about gift-giving. I know this because I am one of them.

We bring our own ideas and traditions to any given celebration. We assume that everyone understands our approach because, well, face it, that’s our approach. We tend not to question ourselves. We just do what we do. We don’t ask “why”.

Until. The day we do. 

I did not realize how much certain things meant to my own family, or even how steeped in tradition we had become until many years ago (on one of my many “why”-days) when I proposed yet another gift-giving guide for my husband and four children. 

The newest proposal neither fit the holiday narrative that I had conscientiously constructed over the years, nor did it adhere to the cultural “norm” so excessively promoted by industry. 

Although it offered (or, so I hoped) an approach to gift-giving that represented a more clearly-defined social consciousness, I soon discovered an additional bonus: conversations. Many of them. Whether at the dinner table, in the car, or just in passing, that “why” question blossomed into examinations of economic, political, environmental and social issues, and more.  

Well, it is now November of 2023, decades have passed, and the evolving guide, though not completely embraced by its intended audience, continues to lend itself to ongoing discourse about big issues. And, there have been noticeable gift-giving refinements along the way as well.

Here is the current draft, most recently updated to add the “re-home” category where, instead of giving something, an unused or unwanted item (specifically, something large and cumbersome) is actually removed from the home. And, the answer is yes, if you ask, I do have something in mind that may require the muscles of four young adults.

Uploaded Image: NataliesGiftGuide.jpeg


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