When people say, “Don’t get me anything,” it’s best to pay no attention. They’ll say, “I have everything I need,” but that doesn’t rule out wish fulfillment. And it helps if we’re mind readers about what they’d really like, if only they’d say so.
I’m going to a birthday party for a man who’s 85 years old today. Getting a gift for him takes more than a little thought. After we’ve lived a certain number of years, most of us feel we own enough things. In fact, we’ve started giving things away.
It’s much easier to shop for younger people. They really do need things and then they want so many things, there’s a world of gadgets they feel they can’t live without.
My birthday friend says, “Don’t get me anything. I don’t need a thing.” But I think when someone says that, he’d still like to be surprised with a little something. So I’m paying no attention and giving him a gift anyway. Sounds simple enough - but it’s not, because he really does have everything he wants and duplicates of everything he needs.
Over these past few birthdays I’ve about used up every creative notion about gifts for him. Someone suggested “a gift of time” and last year I spent an afternoon with him over coffee and sweets I baked myself. But this year’s a big number with a big party and I don’t want to arrive empty-handed.
I finally settled on the one thing that he uses every day - music. He plays music at the top volume of his Bose extra-special CD player that his daughter insisted he buy. So I got him a CD. Oh - and one of those cushioned “kitchen slice” rugs to put in front of the stove. He didn’t say he needs one, but I think he does.
Thanks to his grandson, who got him a DVD player and installed it, I’ve got a head start on gift ideas for Christmas.
Ó Anita Garner 2009
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