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Give the Gift of Giving Gifts

Regardless of the wind and weather, or perhaps because of it, the winter holidays are always associated with the spirit of giving, and we’re big fans of it. To that end, here are a few items or experiences that you may want to give that special someone(s) on your list this year:


We live in scary times full of scary people saying scary things, most of them from the campaign trail, and as such it is easy to think of the future as a grim and awful smudge on the timeline of humanity. Here’s something to consider, we have a lot more in common with people than not, although it is admittedly hard to imagine in a few cases—but it’s a small world, after all—and even the darkest forecast holds a sliver of sunshine. An easy and inexpensive act of kindness toward people in need of hope is the Blu-ray/DVD of Disney’s Tomorrowland, now with more Clooney. Yes, I’m very aware of how cheesy that sounds (minus the Clooney part, obviously), and seeing as the film has a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes there’s a chance that half of you won’t really care for it (or, dare I say, get it), but for those that find promise in the present, or have the heart to pursue it, Tomorrowland is an enjoyable and hopeful addition to the family video collection.


There is a lot of gray area between empathy and sympathy, but what it boils down to is that empathy is truly understanding the emotions of another whereas sympathy is acknowledging the existence thereof and the constant need to fix it—that isn’t to say that sympathy is a negative thing, but the two are not as interchangeable as many seem to think. Consider the video below animating the difference between empathy and sympathy as explained by Brené Brown, whom I (Whit) opened for at a conference one time with my own reading, which was more or less me chanting “f#@k” a hundred and eleventy times in a row with occasional breaks for breath and laughter.

My point? Empathy is wonderful and if you really want to help someone understand the emotions of others give them a copy of Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out. Yes, the list is only movies so far. Yes, it’s an animated feature. Yes, it is all about emotions and kids and the tears and the love AND THE EMPATHY. It’s pretty wonderful.

Also, if you are really desperate, I wrote a book on empathy—technically a book on communication, but what better way to communicate than by choosing to understand others, or at least try your damnedest? The Parents’ Phrase Book is available wherever books are sold and, in my totally biased opinion, makes a great gift for anyone that knows a child or has ever been one.


ScholarShare Matching

I’ve told you before about ScholarShare, because it is a way to help people, be they your own children, family, friends, yourself, or anyone you feel obliged to assist, save for the high costs of higher education.

During the holidays, ScholarShare wants to double the joy of learning by offering its second matching promotion this year: It’s Holiday Match 2015! Beginning on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015 at 12:01 a.m. PST and running through Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. PST, California families who open a new ScholarShare 529 college savings account with $50 can receive a matching initial deposit of $50 from ScholarShare. To be eligible for ScholarShare’s matching promotion, California families will need to:

  • Open a new ScholarShare College Savings Plan with an initial deposit of at least $50 – to be contributed and invested at the time the new account is opened.
  • Enroll in the automatic contribution

Note, the matching deposit of $50 will be made to the eligible ScholarShare 529 account on or before 11:59 p.m. PST on June 30, 2016. There is a limit of one matching deposit per new ScholarShare account opened for a new beneficiary. Additional details about the matching promotion, including the complete terms and conditions, can be found at here. Also, we have partnered with ScholarShare to feature the benefits that they offer, and have been compensated for it.


I suppose all of the things listed above would include time as a major component in their own design, but time, as you know is more than that. It is small hours and big moments, fleeting years and lingering hours. Time levels the playing field and fills the cracks, and it is a thing that we can never get enough of, yet we give it freely to those we care about (and for a price to others). Do that. Share your time, be it in charitable work or conversation. Read books aloud to those that would listen, help a stranger, hug everyone that will let you and even some that won’t. Spend time with your children and your parents, and let them spend time together, too. Time won’t fill a stocking or tie neatly in a bow, but it is as noble a gift as one could ever give, and it is in the giving that we also receive. Time is circular like that, and it is the gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Holidays from Family Life on Earth!

Whit Honea is the author of “The Parents’ Phrase Book” and co-founder of the philanthropic organization Dads 4 Change. He is the Social Media Director/Community Manager of the Dad 2.0 Summit. His writing can be found at Fandango, GeekDad, Disney, Today, Good Housekeeping, City Dads Group, Stand Magazine, The Washington Post and several other popular publications. He previously covered travel for Orbitz, CBS and AOL, and served as Editor of Family Travel for UpTake. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable, Whit has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is the 2015 winner of the Iris Award for Best Writing.