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Pauline Lerner

Gift Giving

January 8, 2009 at 11:02 AM

A few weeks ago, I asked one of my students, a ten year old from an observant Jewish family, what she wanted for Hanukah. She said, "I'm not sure. I can't think of anything I really need. Maybe I'll just give money to charity." Flabbergasted, I asked her for details. Her grandparents, who are active donors to good causes, give each of their grandchildren a total dollar value and choices on how to spend it. The kids decide how much to donate to charity, which charity(ies) to donate to, and what they want for themselves with the remaining money. This week, I asked her what she had decided to do about her Hanukah gift. She told me what she had gotten for herself: two inexpensive but very practical items. I estimated their total cost at no more than $25. She donated the bulk of her discretionary gift money to charity.

I often see stresed out parents buying their kids hundreds of dollars of electronic toys. The whole advertising industry pushes them this way.

I think the lessons learned about gift giving and responsibility towards ourselves and others are at least as important as the gifts themselves.

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