I recently went to a talk by a psychologist on how to parent teenagers... she said that kids today have never had a greater sense of their rights and entitlements. Correct. On the other hand, she said, they've never had less sense of their responsibilities. Also correct. Now the gift of a goat for someone in Sierra Leone or reading lessons for a kid in Kenya isn't going to change any of that, but it will do no harm, and it'll do nothing but good for those who receive these gifts in far-off places of which our kids know little. And these gifts really do make a difference. Trust me, I went to Guatemala and El Salvador with the charity Cafod to see it with my own eyes.
Maybe it's the global economy. Maybe it's a newly discovered sense of pragmatism. Whatever it is, this is without a doubt the first Christmas in recent memory that doesn't have me excited about shopping. And I know I'm not the only one! My friends and family seem to have been struck by the same anti-shopping - and even anti-gift getting spirit. So, while I've received the cookie-cutter answer "nothing" every time I pose the question "what do you want for Christmas?", I still do have my own ideas about the gifts I'd most like to give. I've decided this year to give meaningful gifts - in other words, gifts that keep on giving.