Smile with me as I suggest comestibles and experiences and no care goodies that will delight those who are marking the passage of time in the "I don't buy green bananas" department.
G'ma used to say that she was divesting instead of acquiring; her greatest joy was to send me Bubba's cut glass serving dish ("Be careful, sweetheart, I think it's leaded crystal. I wouldn't use it too often, if I were you.") or Daddooooo's Shakespeare for Chanukah or my birthday or just because. It didn't happen often; she wasn't a spontaneous gift giver. But when UPS dropped off a thoroughly taped reused shipping carton addressed in her perfect printed penmanship I started to smile before I looked for the implements with which to cut through the brown and silver and transparent tapes.
She loved receiving pictures of her grandchildren, from whom she lived much too far. After a while, she asked for the photos without the frames ("The house is beginning to look like a museum, honey.") so that she could layer them, one atop the other, and keep the most recent ones in view. I'm sure that it helped to anchor her in time. Realizing now that her memory must have been slipping long before any of us noticed, I wonder if she did this consciously, as a self-prescribed memory aid. I do know that all the grandkids were grouped with their own parents on separate walls or side tables.
The gift idea? Hie thyself over the river and through the woods with a set of un-framed, brand new 5x7's or 8x10's or whatever your elder has on display right now. Don't discard the current photos, just layer your new ones closer to the glass. If you've thought to print them out with a message added via the wonders of Picasa or another on-line photo space, even better. I've labeled all G'ma's pictures with yellow post-it notes beneath each human. I wish it looked more elegant, but it gets the job done. It might be fun to add talk bubbles including the person's name.
Part of this gift is the time you spend, talking about the who's and the when's and the where's. The gift of time as conceived by Not-Kathy and Dr. K seemed like the perfect gift for his mom last year. Every other Sunday is what they offered, and she, in her 10th decade, accepted with glee. Whatever she wanted, whatever she needed, she had their undivided attention twice each month.
At least, that was the plan. Turns out that, in reality, Mom was much too busy to accommodate her accommodating children. "Oh, dear, no, I can't see you this week, I have plans to........" And so it goes. The kids get credit for a great idea whether his mother has time to fit them into her busy schedule or not. It's a win-win. And it would have been that way had she been available every for every one of those promised Sundays,. Time is in short supply for all of us; I don't think there's anything more valuable to share.
For most of us, though, time is something we cannot share in any more directions than exist right now at this moment. This is where two birds/one stone comes in pretty handy. If you, like I, are designated to send holiday cards
Who is this going to? (The same person it was going to when I handed it to you ten seconds ago.)
Why am I doing this? (Because you always send these cards.)
Didn't I just do this a minute ago? (Yes, to someone else.)Let me suggest an angst-free way out of this mess. As they say on their website,
(w)ith Paper Culture's Mail & Message service Paper Culture will print, address (both return and recipient), stamp & mail your cards on your behalf for only the cost of the stamp.All you have to do is order them. Compare this scenario to the one above:
Aren't these great Hanukkah cards? (No, no one has sent it to you. I wonder which one you want to send. For Hanukkah. Yes, it's December already. I know, there's no snow, but it's Tucson..... yes Tuck-sun... I love you, Mommy.)
Which one appeals to you? (At least for G'ma, we've still got likes and dislikes under control.)
No, we don't know those children. They are part of the advertisement. We can put your face there if you'd like. (Cue "I take a terrible picture you know that oh dear GOD don't do that please" rant.)That's all. She chooses the card she likes, you fill out the forms and send in the addresses and you have spent quality time with your loved one while not wasting it with time-consuming reminders that even signing her name is a major under-taking these days. Why dwell on what is not? Make the most of what is.
I stay away from Harry and David and other gigantically gorgeous boxes of fresh fruits. Even the half boxes are more than TBG and I can finish before they rot, and making them into jam or pie is a chore instead of a gift. I could give them away, but there are a limited number of venues where 2 pears is an appropriate gift. The Costco pre-wrapped baskets are the same thing. Sure, wild sockeye salmon sounds great, until you've spent 15 minutes trying to open the package and find yourself standing there in a pile of fish oil with three slimy bites to show for your efforts. Offer to pick up a favorite restaurant meal and share it in front of the tv. No getting dressed to go out, lots of love and good food to share.
Individual cans of tuna, the pre-wrapped dishwasher packets, lighted magnifying glasses for every room in the house..... the list of things is endless if we put our minds to it. What do you send? What do you want? Please share.