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February 27, 2007

The Ultimate Gift of values

Abigailbreslin Fresh from her Oscar nomination, adorable little Abigail Breslin is appearing in a new movie opening March 9. This one looks like a sweet, feel-good family movie. Based on a short novel, The Ultimate Gift tells the story of a billionaire grandfather who realizes that he's made plans to pass his money on to his heirs, but that he's neglected to pass on his values. Granddad comes up with a plan, a series of tasks his grandson must complete which will instill granddad's values in the boy.

Instead of a Happy Meal toy, this movie's marketing tie-in is a kit, sold online, that is supposed to help families define their values, talk about them, and pass them on to the next generation. In an age when grandchildren often live far away from the grandparents and don't have the benefit of daily interaction and observance, families have to be more intentional about passing on the wisdom and values of one generation to another.

My grandfather wrote a short autobiography several years before he died. While I thought I knew him well, I learned new things about his hard work, his thriftiness and the sacrifices he and my grandma made in the early years of their marriage, and about his confident optimism that he could do things like install plumbing or build a garage. My cousins and I still talk about what a great thing it is to have this written history of our grandfather's life.

But the great thing about the idea in this movie is that the grandfather didn't just tell his grandson about things like bravery and an honest day's work. He made him go out and experience them. I think that's a lesson we can all benefit from. How are we helping those younger than us experience the things that build character in a person? Are we just trying to make things easier for the next generation, or are we trying to raise a generation of people who have learned what really matters in life?

(Photo courtesy of the Ultimate Gift website)

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