Instead of trading presents, a friend of mine goes with her husband and two children to a cabin in the woods each winter. This trip costs less than what would be spent on material items and the memories are priceless. In the world of law enforcement, with funky schedules, overtime, and other demands, a gift of a trip (this does not need to be something huge) gives your family one of the things sorely lacking in many families: the gift of time. If you can't get away or even this is too expensive, take mini-trips throughout the year. You could purchase an Entertainment book or sign up for Groupon and decide on one or two local attractions, events or restaurants you will go to together each month. Deciding what to do can be part of the fun. Just make sure you stick with it and remember it was a gift to yourself and your family. You could also take a class or join a movie club. The idea is to spend time together.
The gift that keeps on giving
One way to gift that is special to the recipient and makes a difference is to make a charitable donation in a loved one's name. You can probably think of at least one cause each of your family members believe in. Along with the biggies, like specific animals (wolves, whales or wallabies), the environment and social issues, smaller ones exist. My teenage son is an avid skateboarder. Our community has designated a Youth Advisory Committee who is assisting with the creation of a skate park and community center. A donation in my son's name to this cause would mean something to him.
The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for families and with the uncertainty flowing through many law enforcement agencies currently, it is even more so. Money is tight and people are realizing material things often take up space in the home but not in the mind. Overspending essentially grounds us for months. Think outside the box this year and give your loved ones (and you can help your kids do this too) special gifts that they'll remember. If you have other ideas, add them to the comments. Have a beautiful Holiday season and remember the biggest gift is love.