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Meaningful thanks and giving

True Wealth: Judith McGee


As we enter the season of thanks and giving, it’s a good time to reflect on what’s really meaningful to you and to those receiving your gifts. We all want to express love for the children in our lives by giving gifts. That’s natural. But with a little forethought we could choose gifts that create memories and add lasting value to their lives.

It was fun to give gifts when the children were little, but as they’ve gotten older, I’m not sure they appreciate my choices. One granddaughter actually returned gifts for the cash value. I stopped buying for her.

‘Clean up your room!’

That’s the familiar cry of many a frustrated parent, but where exactly did all that stuff come from? There are so many toys in MacKenzie’s room, she has little space to play or think because of all the distractions: electronics, dolls, stuffed toys, pieces of games and puzzles, and paraphernalia everywhere. Does she really need one more toy?

Your own adult children might not mind what you buy the grandkids as long as you keep it all at your house. I have a friend who set up an art room for her grandkids, complete with easels and supplies. It’s a win-win for everyone ... less clutter in the child’s room at home, plus the added enticement for the kids to come visit her and share creative time. Everyone loves it.

Memories are made of this

When you think back to your childhood, which memories do you hold most dear? Was it of a shared experience, summers at the beach, a unique fun activity, or was it some material object that you soon tired of? I can guess the answer.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

* Plan a special creative activity around the holidays. I remember the big beautiful cross-stitched embroidered tablecloth that four of us kids worked on with my mother. We’d planned the project for months and spent many hours working together on it. It was our special gift for my grandmother because she hosted the big annual holiday dinners. But the real gift turned out to be the precious memories brought back each time we sat around the table. Now that same tablecloth is used every Thanksgiving at my son’s home.

* Maybe you don’t have time to sit and sew. With the popularity of today’s electronic gadgets, consider printing some of your favorite family photos. Let the kids create an artistic collage to either frame for a wall, or laminate onto a serving tray used for special occasions.

* “Surprise care packages” are another fun project. Children can collaborate and choose special items that the whole family can enjoy. Of course, those packages take on even more meaning when they are assembled and distributed to the needy. And if there are causes dear to your hearts, you might consider a holiday cookie bake sale with the proceeds going to the humane society, a food bank, a library or some other cause, all given in the child’s name.

Educational/cultural experiences

* Give memberships to museums, tickets to movies or theater groups. Buy them classes in acting or pottery making. And when possible, go along and enjoy it with them.

What works in your family? Email us with your own ideas, and we’ll share them with others.

Judith A. McGee is the chair and chief executive officer of McGee Wealth Management Inc., an independent registered investment advisor. She is a co-branch manager of, and offers securities through, Raymond James Financial Services Inc. in Portland. Reach her at 503-597-2222 or Judith@mcgeewm.com.