I am among the elderly. I am now 75, so I have an idea about what we want. Most of us don’t need any more talcum powder, or perfume, or nighties or bath robes. Most of us have homes full of things because we have collected things over the years. I have gotten rid of things through garage sales, taking clothes to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army or in my case, since I worked so many years, I donated my working clothes, nice dresses and suits, to organizations who provide that sort of thing to women who are looking for work, and need something nice to go to interviews with. The economy of the past few years mean there are a lot of women, and men, who need apparel to wear.
But I digress – just say I’ve gotten rid of more stuff than I need to live with, and don’t want any more.
What most of us want are things you may not ordinarily think about as a decent Christmas present. And that is perhaps because for too many years most of us wanted to spend a lot of money to buy really cool things, and maybe in hope to impress others. Money becomes the yardstick to so many of us. But here is what I would appreciate, and I bet your elderly relatives would say so too. A 24- or 48-role package of toilet tissue; wrap it in a big fluffy beautiful bath towel. Gift cards to places like CVS, Walgreen’s (good for use with meds), Target, Wal-Mart; books or panes of stamps, preferably the pre-stuck kind, and if they still sell them, the good-forever stamps; grocery stores where you or the person lives, for me, it is HEB. However, I would welcome a gift card for a fancy food place, like Central Market or a World Market, because they are generally too expensive, but offer “exotic” foods that I can’t normally shop for. I also enjoy food gifts, things you can buy at many of the stores listed, where you buy coffee or tea or cocoa or pasta, etc., wrapped up in a package with maybe something that you would serve the drink or food in. A gift basket, maybe, from a place where they sell booze, with maybe some snacks, if your loved one is a drinker (not good for those who have trouble with drink).
You get the idea; there are necessities for every elder person who is maybe living on social security that they sometimes cannot afford. Most of us simply don’t want another knickknack or tschotske or bottle of some bath product that is just going to collect dust. If you know your person’s preference for bar soap, like I use Dove, I would gladly accept a pack of 12 bars; I would love that. Many of these ideas would also suit poor folk, though I think they would usually be satisfied with a box of groceries.
And if nothing else, if you know someone who is surviving with only enough money to get by, but don’t know their preferences, or you feel cheap or silly giving something like toilet paper – and you don’t have time or the inclination to get a gift card (because you are afraid they would be insulted and think you didn’t want to take time to think about a good gift), money is always appreciated. The problem with giving cash is that you want to give more money than you can really afford yourself, and a $20 pack of toilet tissue, or nose tissues, or paper towels really would be more appreciated, especially if you get creative with the wrapping or decorating, with the aforementioned luxury bath towel, or a set of kitchen towels, or even a utensil or two, if you think the giftee really wants or needs such a thing.
Children want fancy, expensive things. The elderly don’t. And by the way, use this same kind of thinking when it comes to a disabled family member. I am not disabled, so I don’t have quite the experience to think of what might mean a lot to me. But you may. Just use your imagination, and remember, it is the thought that matters, not the cost. Or that is how it should be.
Love from Carol Stepp
Happy Holidays to all.