From your editor: Take a walk

A senior woman sits in a chair in a library and reads a book to her two granddaughters

Monday, November 6, 2017

I certainly enjoyed introducing myself and my husband, Dale, in our first issue last August! We were pictured in our home on Cherry Street, where we enjoyed our front-row seats as University Village grew from the ground up and now moves toward completion. It will soon get its final touches and be ready to go public!

I’ve thought of various subjects we could talk about this visit. However, as we come into the Thanksgiving and Christmas season I’m drawn toward the topic of gift giving. Some folks just seem to have a knack for choosing the perfect gift. Alas, I seldom fit into that category.

Once Dale and I added our names to the intent list, I resolved to become more thoughtful with our gift giving. I realized downsizing would be a lot more fun if we gifted some “treasures” to friends and family. Of course I’ve read many articles about how our children and friends don’t want our stuff, so we have been very, very careful to make sure they receive desired items that would be treasured.

This is a win/win for you as well as friends and family: it simplifies your shopping, helps you downsize, and at the same time your friends and family have something from you they will enjoy!

It has gone very well for us. This Christmas, even though we now live at Friendsview, we are thinking of ways to “gift” others with some valued items. We have also used some of the practical suggestions in the article I’m including with this issue. Read and enjoy!

Four Gift Giving Ideas for Older Adults
by Mollie Kavanaugh

Some men and women really enjoy wandering through malls, shopping centers, department stores, and superstores looking for holiday gifts. It puts them in that feel-good holiday spirit, they cheerfully declare.

Others find that malls and big stores have the opposite effect. Traffic, long checkout lines, and too much merchandise to sort through often cause them to spend more money than budgeted just to get it done.

Thankfully there are many ways to provide gifts for family and friends that involve little or no interaction with the storefront shopping world. Here are four other ways for older adults to give this holiday season.

Give a Cherished Item

Look around your house and see what treasure might give delight to a loved one. A painting or ceramic piece? A vase or candy dish? A souvenir from a special vacation? A wedding or long-ago birthday gift? A decorative lamp or clock?

Do a little digging. Go through your jewelry box; bookcases; china cabinets; and clothes, linen, and other closets. Attics and basements also hold treasures you might have forgotten about.

Heirloom gifts are especially meaningful to grandchildren and other young adults in your life. A granddaughter would probably appreciate your pearl necklace or vintage fountain pen. A young man might like an antique tool or cufflinks. Make sure the gift includes a card or letter, preferably handwritten, detailing memories and stories about the item.

Writes Susan V. Bosak in How to Build the Grandma Connection:
“Grandchildren like the hottest new stuff, but they also have a real need for a sense of family history and connection. In the short term, keepsakes create an immediate sense of connection. Over the years, they become a powerful symbol of that connection. Keepsakes evoke memories and feelings. They also make us feel part of something bigger. They are a critical part of a living family legacy. Older people have a need to give keepsakes as something to remember me by and grandchildren have just as much of a need to receive them.”

Give Travel and Other Experiential Gifts
Is 2018 the year for an intergenerational family vacation? It might be, if you are willing to pay for some or all of it.

Along with cost, other considerations are physical activity level, interests, vacation availability of family members, health, and other special needs.

Rather than sharing a travel experience or outing, consider sharing a talent or skill with a loved one. You could teach a family member or friend how to knit; sew; make jewelry, candles or pies; and include some or all equipment and materials to get started. Or teach them woodworking, how to knit, sew, fly fish or golf, or practice yoga.

Maybe your loved one’s interest is not one you possess, such as writing poetry or playing guitar. You could sign them up for an instructional class or online program or pay a friend or neighbor to share their skills.

Obviously, you want to make sure the recipient is really interested in learning what you are offering.

Give a Handmade Gift
Kendal at Oberlin resident Sam Goldberg uses the lathe in the Kendal woodshop to make jewelry boxes, music boxes, vases, and bowls. “I have given many of these as gifts to family members and friends,” he says.

Mary Louise VanDyke, also a resident, likes to bake bread and weave wall hangings and cell phone lanyards for gifts.

If you are a knitter, think about giving socks or scarves; a seamstress, pillows and quilts; a baker, cookies and candies; a gardener, canned relish or preserves.

Give a Gift in Honor of a Loved One

Give a biogas stove, a goat or other animal, and farming item to families in Zanzibar and other impoverished countries, then send a special card from Heifer International telling your loved one of the gift. The goal of Heifer International is to help families achieve self-reliance by providing them with the tools needed to sustain themselves.

Finally, you can give the gift of giving. A GlobalGiving gift card allows the recipient to pick from thousands of humanitarian projects worldwide.

Molly Kavanaugh writes for the Kendal at Oberlin Community in northern Ohio. This article is republished by permission of Kendal at Oberlin.