Spousal Gifts


It was 1985 and our whole family had gone to hear a talk by visiting Jesuit Father Charles Gallagher. He was proposing a radical approach to Christmas: cancel the bought presents and give gifts of personal sacrifice, affirmation, service and kindness. Instead of the usual toys, movie tickets, clothes or festive foods, he challenged us to write a letter of affirmation, make a pledge card to wash the car or keep our bedroom tidy, make a promise to cease teasing a younger sibling. Our family took it on with enthusiasm and it was the most memorable Christmas we had ever had. I often wondered though, as a naïve teenager, whether the parents gave each other the gifts he suggested:

For the husbands to give their wives: 20 hours of listening; full attention, any time she needed it. She could take it as a twenty straight hours, or in 10 minute blocks.

For the wives to give their husbands: 20 ‘nos’ into instant ‘yeses’. No headaches, no excuses. He could claim them in one week or spaced throughout the year.

Naturally there was a great deal of laughter – Fr Chuck had a knack for hitting the sweet spot. But it points to an important issue: gift-giving is all about the recipient: what would truly delight them?

This Article was featured in the December 2011 Edition of the CathFamily e-Magazine.

Share this story, choose your platform

Francine and Byron Pirola

Comment Policy

We love to hear your stories and ideas. Please keep your comments respectful, your suggestions productive and published under your own name. More info here


Sign up FREE to CathFamily

FREE weekly eNews curates seasonal topics making it easy for parents and catechists to locate and prepare faith-filled and fun activities.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get Social

Recent Posts


CathFamily is an initiative of the Parish & Marriage Resource Centre (PMRC) Australia.. The PMRC Relationship Education Foundation is a registered charity that supports marriage and relationship education activities. All donations in Australia over $2 are tax deductable. All of the administrative work of the Foundation is provided by volunteers and other support infrastructure is ‘gifted’ by other organisations.