Congratulate me! This year I succeeded in something I’ve been unable to do for years: I bought a Christmas gift my elderly parents can actually use and enjoy!
It’s no small feat finding a great gift for folks in their 80s who live a comfortable retirement. They have everything they need, and already possess everything they could ever want. To make matters worse, four years ago they downsized from the spacious family manse to a two-bedroom apartment. They have stuff in storage they haven’t seen in years. So it’s quite a victory to get them a truly useful gift. God knows I’ve tried over the years.
My personal experience is representative of the whole gift-giving insanity that takes place every December in our country. We frantically shop for people who really don’t need anything and who have already got what they want. Advertisers know this, and they gear their campaigns accordingly.
If our country taxed advertisers a dollar every time they use the phrase “that perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list,” we could retire the national debt. Probably afford universal health care, too!
All through this Advent our website has been suggesting ways for Christians to simplify their holidays, including their gift-giving. Check out the links that suggest simpler gifts, ones that are infused with meaning and love, presents that will definitely not max out your MasterCard.
In recent Christmases I’ve gone that route, giving symbolic gifts that have meaning — for instance, for my Mom a donation to the Salvation Army in memory of her mother, who gave faithfully and sacrificially to the “less fortunate” even though she herself was poor. I once gave Dad a never-expiring coupon redeemable for shoulder rubs by me.
But this year I really scored. That perfect gift for my 81 year-old father and 84-year-old mother? It’s a webcam. I sent it to them as an early Christmas present, and then got on the phone and talked my Dad through installing it on his computer and setting up a Skype account.
I’ll never forget the squeals of wonder and joy when they clicked on the software and we talked “face-to-face” while remaining 450 miles apart. I bought the webcam so they will be able to “see” my school-age kids more than just a few times a year.
But they will not “visit” just me and see my kids grow, they can also visit face-to-face with their other children and grandchildren in Arizona, New Jersey, Washington State, Tennessee and Nevada. So it’s not so much a computer gadget I bought them. It’s the gift of family.
Now I have no idea what to do for next Christmas!
Copyright (c) 2004, the Rev. Rob Blezard. All rights reserved.
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