A Gift of Family Fun

Instead of the usual pajamas, slippers, scrapbooks, or ice-makers, we wanted to give Mom something really memorable for Christmas—something that would bring her a lot of joy, yet something that she could use over and over.

One day as I watched a videotape of a slide presentation my husband, Bruce, had put together for his seminary class, the idea came. My mother had always complained about not being able to see enough of her grandchildren. We could make one of these videos for her as a Christmas gift!

Since we had a family reunion coming up, it seemed the perfect opportunity to start our project. We took along our 35mm camera and several rolls of slide film. Bruce took command of the camera, being sure not to reveal what we were up to. Mom kept asking us to send her copies of the pictures we were taking. We just snickered and said, “You bet, Mom.”

Bruce took many shots of the beautiful forest scenery Mom loves so much. There were pictures of rides in the back of Grandpa’s pickup, fishing in the streams, the water balloon fight, our family softball game, and the special fireside we had before we broke camp.

After we arrived home, I got the film developed, then sorted the slides and chose those I wanted to include in the show. I also wanted to have music to go with the slides, so I spent several weeks searching for recordings to match the pictures and our particular family mood.

After much preparation and practice time to get the slide show just right, my husband recorded it for us on a videotape. At this time we also taped a Christmas message from our own family. I wrapped up the box to mail, then wrote on the outside, “Open on Christmas Eve,” since I knew Christmas Day would be too chaotic for any TV watching.

On Christmas Eve, I received a call from my mother. Almost in tears, she told me the tape was one of the best gifts anyone had ever given her. I’ve heard she has since shown it to many who enter her home. What started out as just a simple gift is now a segment of our family history.

Families without the time or equipment to videotape can adapt this idea by making a slide show either to give as a gift or to show at a family gathering. Or they could arrange snapshots recording a particular family event in a special photo album.Sandra Faulkner Andreason, Denham Springs, Louisiana

Grandma’s Christmas Busy Box

Last November, my parents found out that many of their young grandchildren would be coming from far and near for Christmas. However, my mother now works outside the home and she felt frustrated because she didn’t have time to prepare fun things for them to do.

With that in mind, I created “Grandma’s Christmas Busy Box” and sent it to her about a month before Christmas. Some of the items I included were a Christmas apron for Grandma, along with two children’s aprons, cookie cutters, and a recipe for cut-out cookies (no refrigeration needed before baking); kits to make wooden ornaments, reindeer puppets, and Christmas games; Christmas storybooks; a recipe for clay; small teddy bears; Christmas coloring books and crayons; scissors, glue, construction paper, Christmas stickers, and old Christmas cards to cut up to make picture books.

The grandchildren were delighted! And Grandma said it was her most appreciated and well-used gift of the season.Evelyn H. Ames, Provo, Utah

[photo] Photography by Craig Dimond

Coupon Christmas

Because our Heavenly Father gave the world his best—his Son—our family tries to follow this example by giving the best of ourselves at Christmas. These gifts of self have become the most precious and eagerly awaited part of our Christmas-morning festivities.

To prepare for this tradition, several weeks before Christmas we hold a family home evening on giving of ourselves. Then family members start thinking about what they can give. Naturally, the type of gift varies with the age, skills, and time of the giver.

By Christmas Eve, each person has written his or her gifts on 3″ by 5″ index cards or construction paper, decorated them with original artwork or stickers, then slipped each one into an envelope and into the appropriate Christmas stocking.

After the packages under the tree have been opened on Christmas morning, it’s time to open the “gifts of self.” One family member at a time opens an envelope and reads the gift aloud.

Some examples of gifts we have given are: our youngest child has sorted a drawer full of unmatched socks for her dad, folded laundry for a certain number of days for me, and helped clean siblings’ rooms. Older children have made each other’s beds for two weeks, helped with homework, played ten games of the recipient’s choice, done morning chores for someone for a week, provided one special treat a month, brought in firewood on weekends during the winter, and taken a bike hike with a picnic lunch. A daughter worked on a stitchery picture all year for me, and my husband did some household repairs. Gifts we have given our children have included making a Scout album, taking a child on cross-country skiing or camping trips, going on lunch dates, and typing term papers.

These gifts have caused us to think more of others throughout the year as we give of our time and skills and make memories together. They have let us stretch the Christmas spirit in our home to more than a few weeks in December. Best of all, they have encouraged us to grow in love for one another.Sheryl S. White, Sherwood, Oregon

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch