EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 9, 2012

Grandparent does not have enough money to buy Christmas gifts this year

Roseanne DiStefano
Elder Q&A

---- — Q: I remember reading a previous column mentioning appropriate gifts for older adults. My situation is just the opposite. I live on a fixed income and have just enough money every month to pay my bills. My children have told me not to worry about buying gifts for them or my grandchildren because they are aware I can’t afford any additional expenses. I appreciate their understanding but I find it depressing that I am unable to give them anything for Christmas. How do I get over the feeling I am letting everyone down?

A: There are a lot of people who believe the holidays have become far too commercialized. People get in a frenzy of shopping and many overspend before they even realize what has happened. Just because you are not in a financial position to purchase store bought gifts doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. Think about the rich legacy you have to pass on to your family which is invaluable. It might surprise you the options available without ever spending a penny.

Ask yourself this question...what skills and talents have you developed over the years? If you were always referred to as a great cook think about the dishes your family always raved about or requested on special occasions. Write down the recipes with detailed instructions to give to each of them. You might take it to the next level and invite them over for a cooking lesson and let them help you prepare the meal. Family members often try and duplicate a cake, pie or entree they remember their Mom used to make and never quite seem to get it right because the recipe died with their loved one.

Do you knit, crochet or do needlepoint? Have any of your family members ever commented they would like to learn? One on one lessons are so much more helpful then trying to pick up the craft from an instruction book. You may not be giving yourself enough credit for the talents you have that others have often admired.

Schedule a day with your younger grandchildren, keep them engaged with stories of your youth, your diseased husband’s youth or the antics of their parents when they were young. Provide them with special memories of their family heritage. Have prints made of old pictures to share with everyone, this can be done very inexpensively at a local photo shop or print shop.

One of our staff always looks forward to the package she receives from her mother at Christmas and her birthday. The store bought gifts may be nice but the one that provides her with the most pleasure is the special box containing something her mother has decided to give her now rather than waiting until she has passed on. It isn’t the dollar value of the item that is important but the sentimental value that fills her heart.

You will probably be amazed at the wealth of gifts you really do have to offer your family members, ones they will always treasure.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers, direct all correspondence to ro@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc.