My mother decided to try something very brave one Christmas. Instead of a bunch of toys, she gave each of us a gift she had made herself: a handmade collage about her life with us. Mine was composed of cutout photos of me at various ages … from a babe in my mother’s arm to a young teenager, including a poem about mothers and daughters. My siblings received one unique to them as well. At that time, being your typical teenagers, we were not overjoyed that this picture was our “big” gift. We said thank you, but let our parents know that in the future, appropriate gifts came cellophane wrapped and from a store. Well, a few years later, she tried again … this time we all received a new collage composed of all members of the family, including our first kitty cat. And, (because she had heard us) we received the requisite number of store­-bought gifts under the tree.

Although these collages were our least favorite gifts at the time (after all, we were only teenagers), I find it interesting that these two hand­made collages are the only gifts that I still have from my teenage years.

Can you guess what value my mother was trying to communicate to us? You guessed it … the importance of ‘family.’

If you’re like most folks, that definition and value of family has taken its own twists and turns. Yet my mother never stops trying; and, she continues to be the champion of each of us, no matter how poorly we behave.

When I look at these collages, they bring up all kinds of memories and stories.

This holiday season, consider giving the gift of a family story … with the extra gift of sharing something new about yourself. Take the time to gently point out the moral of your story. What did you learn, and how has it served you in life? Trust me, if you take the time to craft your story into something more than family gossip, it will become a guide light for your children as they journey through life.