Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Ways to Express the Spirit of Giving Many Seek Alternatives to Growing Gift Lists

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Ways to Express the Spirit of Giving Many Seek Alternatives to Growing Gift Lists

Article excerpt

Lee Watkins' Christmas list just kept growing - with six children and their spouses and 16 grandchildren, ages 3 to 25. Christmas just got to be one big shopping event for this woman from Clayton.

But not this year. "We're going to draw names," Watkins said. "It was one of the kids' idea, to make it easier on everyone - easier to shop, less expensive and better-quality gifts. I imagine it will be a lot better. I'm looking forward to it."

Watkins has a lot of company. Many people around the area say they are finding different ways of getting off the shopping merry-go-round, and still get in the spirit of giving.

Bobbi Dees and her husband, Bill Dees, of Ballwin, polished off their shopping in early December for their seven grandchildren, aged 2 to 20.

"When each child is born, we start a collection for them," Bobbi Dees explained. Their four granddaughters have collections of porcelain figurines - Hummels made in Germany, Lladros made in Spain or Rockwells made in the United States. Their three grandsons have coin collections, beginning with a mat of coins issued the year of each boy's birth.

"We wanted to give them something lasting, that they wouldn't outgrow," Bobbi Dees said. "And as they get older, their collections will only increase in value."

Steve Welsh, 23, of Florissant, said his family is preserving its tradition of showering gifts on the youngest member of the family but has shifted this year to drawing names for the adults - Welsh, his girlfriend, his parents and his two brothers and their wives.

"It was my mom's idea," Welsh said. "The gifts were losing value. You know, the more you buy, the less you spend on each one. We decided it was better to give one real nice gift."

But his 9-year-old niece will get a present from everyone. "I remember when that was me, when I was the youngest," he said with a smile. "I got lots of presents and didn't have to give any."

Jim Persons, of Brentwood, is looking at his first Christmas since getting a divorce. He and his former wife used to make many of their gifts to family members. This year, Persons is giving his out-of-town relatives tapes of Christmas music made by his church choir to raise money for "Room at the Inn," a program for homeless families sponsored by many area churches. …

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