When I was growing up, my parents took me to the New York World’s Fair almost every weekend. And, almost every weekend, fireworks were displayed. The fireworks, etched into my memory, seemed as if they were breaking up the sky: massive, deafeningly-loud, and seemingly forever-lasting. I found them ominous and overwhelming and, as a result, have never been a fan of July Fourth. That is until I spent July Fourth in Nahant, a small Massachusetts town on a peninsula in Essex County, where the fireworks are of the old-fashioned sort: beautiful, short and sweet, and not scary at all.
I don’t know about you, but when my own children were small I had very mixed feelings about how to help them become gift givers. I wanted them to be bighearted and thoughtful, but not wasteful. I wanted their gifts to mean something, but not everything. I started by bankrolling their purchases and later felt they needed to have some skin in the game. I encouraged them to really think about the recipient: their grandfather loved all things grapefruit; their grandmother, photographs of them; their cousins, anything silly. But I also wanted them to think about gifts that reflected who they