Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To Exchange Gifts or Not...That is the Question

Christmas is just around the corner...trees are up, lights are sparkling, folks are shopping!  During the holiday season, adoptive families and birth families can get really stressed out about the whole topic of gift giving....to exchange gifts or not to exchange gifts, that is the BIG question?

Unfortunately, there is not one answer that can be applied, across the board, to every adoptive family and birth family.  However, this is a time of year that you should remember one another and send a greeting, regardless of if it includes a gift or not.  Remember that it is the thought that counts.  It is better to send a card than do nothing because you have allowed yourself to be frozen in panic.

I have witnessed adoptive families and birth families who enjoy exchanging gifts and others who have chosen to keep their relationship focused on the relationship and don't want to burden either family with adding to the Christmas shopping list.  It is certainly individual and the most important thing is to communicate and talk about it if the uncertainty of know what you should or shouldn't do has caused you to stay awake at night.  Simply say, "I've been thinking about Christmas coming up and I sure want you to know how much you mean to our family every month throughout the year, but wondered what your thoughts are about whether we should exchange gifts or not?".  It comes out much easier than you might anticipate - and you'll feel so much better once you know what's expected.

If you choose not to exchange gifts, there are still some great ideas for the holidays: 

Send a photo card, making it more personal than the standard greeting and really think about your message inside (don't use your standard, 1 line greeting that you will write on all 100 of your cards). 

Make an ornament for the Christmas tree and mail it in early December. 

Consider sending an "update letter" and some new photographs.  This is a great idea for birth parents as well.  It is easy for birth parents to think that they have nothing to tell about themselves, but make an effort at the end of this year to tell the adoptive family about you and your family and include updated pictures of yourself. 

Share a holiday tradition between families.  Maybe it's a special breakfast that you enjoy as a family, a story that is read annually, a Christmas movie that's a "must" in your home, a family recipe, etc. 

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