This time of year traditionally has always been filled with excitement, planning and family fun. This year is no exception. It’s funny how the older one gets, the more time it takes to do the simple tasks of preparing holiday meals, buying and wrapping gifts, and dealing with all things holiday. Why should I think this year would be different?

Getting Smarter About Holiday Meals

After decades of practice, I’m finally getting better at preparing Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Or maybe I should say I’m getting smarter instead of better…

The tasks are easier because John and I no longer prepare and serve the entire meal. Also, John no longer fries our turkey in a gigantic “firetrap” fryer that makes us worry we’ll need to dial the fire department. Thank goodness! We only do the meat and meatless options. However, I refuse to create a tofu turkey. I’m not artistic enough.

We’re smarter now and ask every other family to contribute a side dish. I have no idea how I did it when I was still working, which is exactly what all of my friends say. I love the variety of the side dishes. It seems the holidays always leave me with a couple of new recipes.

Learning Lessons About Christmas Gifts

Buying and wrapping gifts is still one of my favorite holiday preparations, though. I like to quietly listen to family conversations, hoping I’ll hear something I can use or turn into a gift idea.

When the grandkids were little, there always seemed to be a game they wanted. I would insist on getting each one a book and educational games. Those items didn’t go over very well. But once an educator, always an educator! Their moms were fine with us getting the grandkids games and books but asked us to get them clothes as well.

I evidently went overboard with the clothes gifts one year. Number two granddaughter was five when she threw a tantrum after opening up too many clothes. “MORE CLOTHES? WHY?” was her comment followed by sobs. A couple of minutes in timeout did the trick. It was certainly an “ah ha” moment for me. She no longer remembers the incident, but I’ll never forget it. Boy oh boy, did Grandma take one for Santa that year!

Now, the grandkids only want clothes and shoes. I know they would be fine with gift cards and probably prefer them, but I have a really hard time buying them. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually get to see what they purchase with the card.

Do I fear I’ll miss the enjoyment of wrapping the gifts? Do I think I would miss the “oohs” and “ahs” as the gifts are unwrapped? As I write this, I’m wondering if I’m being selfish…? I’ve never thought of my aversion to gift cards in this way.

Realizing Time Together Is Precious

I realize that our time doing this is finite. With college right around the corner for all four grandkids, can their careers, new lives and new directions be far behind?

I don’t know what the future holds—dare I say, great grandchildren, should we be lucky enough to have and enjoy them. But I do know that no gift card will ever grace their Christmas stocking or rest under my Christmas tree. Yes, I’m sure that decision puts me on the retail world’s “naughty list,” but I’m willing to risk it.

On second thought, I do have a monthly lunch date with a 90-year-old friend who lives at a retirement facility. She has limited mobility and has succumbed to buying gift cards for her great-grandchildren. Okay. Never say never, but I’ll put off gifting with cards for as long as I can.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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