Harlen Miller, artist and author of “Slow Down Arthur, Stick to Thirty,” said, “Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don’t quite know how to put our love into words.” The Christmas Season, as well as birthdays and anniversaries, are occasions of great joy, as well as frustration, especially when it comes to selecting gifts for the elderly.
While there is a plethora of gift ideas for young children, what-to-buy for parents is especially difficult for a few reasons
Parents often have the financial ability to buy what they want when they want it
Past gifts, as well as purchases, have been accumulated for decades – so much, in some cases, that there is little space for storage in their houses
Aging has diminished their physical or mental abilities to enjoy active participation or use complicated electronic gadgets
Gift givers may lack the time or inspiration to create an unusual gift or experience for their parents
As a card-carrying member of the AARP Generation, I understand the dilemma of my children seeking gifts to please me or my spouse. However, I can also attest that the gifts I’ve treasured the most over the years were not the most expensive, or even available from a store, but were crudely made ashtrays, hand-painted pictures, or special moments of time and togetherness given in love. Simple, often inexpensive gifts that say “I love you” or “I remember the good times” are the ones that will be kept and revisited year after year.
Great Gifts for Parents From Adult Children
1. A Personal Letter from a Child or Grandchild
A handwritten, heartfelt letter from a child or grandchild is always appropriate and becomes more cherished as time goes by. Grammar and misspellings don’t matter; there is no grading and no critic who will review the contents for plot or accuracy. Simply recalling a time that was shared between child and parent, expressing how much enjoyment you felt, and thanking your parent or parents for that memory is enough to make it special.
The holiday season is also the biggest shopping season of the year. The time period from Black Friday through December 24th can mean the difference between an annual profit or a loss for some retailers. As a consequence, retailers advertise sales, extend store hours , and open online Internet storefronts to fulfill the demand for Christmas gifts. Almost two-thirds of shoppers will “showroom” their purchases by checking and comparing products online before venturing into a brick-and-mortar store, and according to The Christian Science Monitor, online retailer Amazon has aggressively matched or beat prices of retail giants such as Best Buy and Walmart.
The holidays are filled with emotion, not the least of which is a desire to give your loved ones the best gifts possible. Unfortunately, we tend to associate value with price and, as a result, spend much more than we can afford. Retailers understand how to trigger your emotional buttons, encouraging you to spend more, rather than less. So in spite of all the hubbub, it’s paramount to protect yourself and carefully watch how much you spend this season.
Parents are often conflicted during the holidays when Santa Claus is ever-present in the media and community. Should the belief in an imaginary, mythical figure be encouraged? How will your child feel when he or she discovers the jolly figure in the red suit carrying a big bag of Christmas presents is not real?
While there are no definitive answers, the following information may help you make the right decision for you and your child.
The Development of Imagination
Between the ages of two and three, children begin developing imagination and engage in some form of play-acting or pretend. Most parents have experienced being served an imaginary meal, and few question whether the child actually believes the food is real.
Researchers agree that imagination is an essential tool children use to learn about things and people they don’t directly experience. Dr. Paul Harris of the Harvard Graduate School of Education says that imagination and role-play appear to have a key role in helping children understand someone else’s perspective: “Whenever you think about the Civil War or the Roman empire or possibly God, you’re using your imagination. The imagination is absolutely vital for contemplating reality, not just those things we take to be mere fantasy.”
Dr. Jacqueline Woolley at the University of Texas in Austin has conducted a number of child studies on imaginary or mythical characters such as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Her research indicates that children as young as age three can distinguish between reality and fantasy, but lack the ability to accurately assess the difference when presented with available evidence. In other words, children learn by what they see, what they hear from others (testimony), and inference, the latter becoming more reliable as they grow older. Studies suggest that belief in Santa Claus begins around age three, peaks at about five, and declines thereafter, so that by nine, only a third of children still believe.
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