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Food for Thought

I’ve reached the stage in my life where I have no answer when somebody asks me what I want for Christmas. I can think of very few things that I want – and nothing that I actually need. It’s easier to tell them what I DON’T want. Those things are numerous, and I suspect there are a number of people in circumstances similar to mine, who may feel the same as I do about Christmas gifts.
I don’t want any more small kitchen appliances or gadgets – and certainly none of those “fun” kitchen things that seem to appear on store shelves only at Christmastime. I suspect they are brought out for the sake of the shopper who has no idea what to buy for someone on their list. So, please, no table-top ice cream makers, fondue pots, ice tea machines or Christmas tree-shaped Jell-O molds. This may sound odd to you, but I can always use a new non-stick skillet – a cheap one. The reason for this is that even the expensive ones lose their non-stick finish in a relatively short time. If I buy only the inexpensive ones, I can afford to toss them when they reach that stage, and buy new ones.
No table linens. Four drawers of my hutch are crammed with tablecloths, place mats, napkins and pads to protect my table-top from hot dishes. I also have three shelves stuffed with so many towels, washcloths and bath mats that I need to wash them only once in six months. My dresser drawers are filled with a vast assortment of nightgowns, pajamas and robes that I will wear out only if I live to be 150.
Typical “Grandmother gifts” during my younger days were pretty stationery, handkerchiefs, hand lotion, perfume and “nice” costume jewelry. Please note: I write all my letters on the computer, I use disposable paper tissues just as you do, there is only one perfume I like – it’s very expensive – so I don’t want scented lotions, bath powder or shampoo to interfere with it. I don’t wear jewelry except for a couple favorite rings that I wear because of their sentimental value. Don’t buy me clothes. I need to try things on because those size tags don’t really mean a whole lot – good fit seems to depend more on the style and the material. If you should give me something that miraculously fits, chances are it won’t go with a single thing in my closet and I’ll have to go shopping – and I totally HATE shopping for clothes. About the only safe clothing items for gifts are mittens, neck scarves and socks.
For the hypothetical person who still insists on giving me a present, here are a few suggestions: You could put some salt in my water softener. You could put new batteries in my smoke detectors and clocks that run on batteries. Postage stamps are as good as gold for someone who writes as many letters as I do. And, think about this, Forever stamps will increase in value if I don’t use them all before the next postage hike! My favorite recreation is reading – the latest book by my favorite author, or a gift certificate to a bookstore, would always be welcome. Then, there are all those non-material gifts that require a little effort without spending much money. Things like cleaning the interior of my car for me and polishing the windows on the inside where I can no longer reach. You could wash and re-hang my curtains for me, since I can no longer climb up to replace the rods. It’s difficult for me to get down to clean out the lower shelves in my refrigerator. I’d really appreciate somebody taking the time to get rid of some of those leftovers that have gotten pushed back out of reach. I suspect that a couple of them have been there so long they’ve developed a written language of their own.
All these above ideas are only suggestions that you might consider for the grandmas and old aunties on your list – or maybe for some busy young working mother who never gets time to catch up with all the chores. They are not – I repeat NOT – actual items on my personal wish list.
If all else fails, I guess you could ask me what I want – there just MIGHT be something!