A friend of mine confided in my just last week that he doesn't know what to buy his 89 year old father for Christmas. In fact he is actually scared to buy anything.
"I bought him a battery charger for his car last year," he said pointing out that his father still gets out and drives every day and still does a lot of his own work on his cars. "You know what he said when he opened it and saw what it was? 'Hell, I still have the charger you bought me for Christmas in 1979 and I still use it. Why do you think I need another one?"
I'm not sure how many people face this with seniors, particularly parents, but my father did something similar to me a couple of times for both Christmas and his birthday. I understood that maybe he no longer needed what I bought, but couldn't have he just accepted it and not said anything. One time I asked him how he thought that made me feel. He told me he was just trying to save me money by me not having to buy something he didn't need. His reasons for what he did were ultimately about me, not him. He always did think of his children first.
At the time I didn't understand that very well, but with him having died five years ago, I wish he was still here so I could give him something he didn't want or need and ultimately he could complain about it.
I think there is something that many of us just approaching senior status ourselves have failed to realize all these years that we are now just starting to understand; time is running out for us and there is no time to fool around with things we don't either need or want. Sometimes getting anything ranging from attention to gifts is just a bother. And I have found myself being less and less gracious over the years with people who either take my time or try to give me something I don't really want.
But you know what? In this season of giving (and getting) we should all be grateful for any gifts that we receive regardless of the size or cost of the gift. If someone thought enough of you to buy you something (or to make it themselves) It is pretty darn important to take the gift whether we want it or can use it or not. Let's face it there is nothing that will offend someone so quickly than someone not being thankful for what they have received.
I guess that thankfulness has to come from looking around you, even if you can't see the forest for the trees. Whenever I get the urge to tell someone that what they have given me is not something I want, I just think about how fortunate I am to have someone that cares enough to place something in my hands.
And also think about those that have little this Christmas season. There are a lot of people out of work, that have lost their homes and are in a desperate situation. If nothing else take that gift you don't want and donate it somewhere where it can do some good.
It really is a state of mind; one that can be changed to make the season better.