Some Truths About Shopping

One thing I know for sure – when someone says, “Don’t give me anything,” it’s best to pay no attention.  Some people say, “I have everything I need,” and really mean it, which doesn’t rule out wish fulfillment.  Some say, “Don’t (sigh) spend your money (sigh) on me,” which means they’re expecting something nice.

After we’ve lived a certain number of years, most of us admit we own enough things.  We’re overwhelmed with stuff and we’ve started giving things away.  It’s easier to shop for younger people.  They really need things and besides, there’s a world of new gadgets they feel they can’t live without.

When someone tells us not to get them anything, but we still want to give, what do we do?  We try to think of something unique.  I don’t know why.  This is tiring and often thankless work, yet we persist.  We find it nearly impossible to arrive gift-less.

Ever notice that we tend to spend more on people who have more?  Maybe there’s a subconscious desire to avoid standing out because we have fewer resources.  I don’t worry about that anymore.  I no longer buy luxury items or expensive anythings for anyone except next of kin.  And when an item costs more than I should be spending, I try to make sure it fits a real need.

Some other things I don’t buy for anyone:  Bathrobes.  Sweaters.  Any one-of-a-kind clothing.  Collectible tchotchkes.  By now we all know what we like to wear and we’ve bought enough of it to last a while.  As for collections, it seems the real fun in collecting a particular kind of stuff would be hunting for said stuff.  If I give you one and another friend gives you one, pretty soon you have a house/patio/yard full of look-alike items.  Where’s the joy in that?

Here are a couple of suggestions.  Admittedly this list is short because I’m still working on this annual dilemma myself.

1)  A gift to share.  I got this idea from my daughter who wants a definitive book of nursery rhymes and traditional children’s songs with simple sheet music she can pick out on the piano and teach to her daughter.

2)  Books for grandparents to read aloud.  Grandparents are great at reading stories because our audience is mostly non-critical.  It’s easy to find books for all age levels, since many books have this information printed right in front.

3)  A recipe card in a nice dish that’s meant to showcase the particular food.  Or cook it, put it into the gift dish and include a copy of the recipe.

4)  Classes in specific areas of interest.

5)  Subscriptions to hobby publications.  

6)  Re-Gift and tell the truth.  If you received something that doesn’t suit your life, where’s the harm in passing it along and telling the recipient why you’re giving it to them.  It seems like a thoughtful thing to do when you’ve got something they can use.

7)  Never, ever pay attention to anyone who says don’t give me anything.  At the very least, you can give them some of your time.  It never hurts to take along something in a nice package to snack on with your coffee or tea or holiday libation.

 Ó By Anita Garner

Getting The Grandparent News

I was doing all right without being a grandmother.  Friends close to my age who were going to have grandchildren already had them.  The time had passed when, if my one and only child was going to reproduce, she would have.  In my family, the women have been grandmothers by their late thirties and early forties.  My daughter was already 40.  We had no reason to believe she’d have a baby.

I did what people do.  I accepted it.  Not every woman will be a mother.  Not every mother will be a grandmother.  All of this to say that after enough years go by, you’re sure that ship has sailed. 

When you don’t think you’ll have grandchildren, there’s nothing to prepare you for how the news will feel.  It’s like having someone hand you a check for a million dollars – except that if someone gave me such a check, I wouldn’t spend time saying things like “Who, me?”  and “Would you look at the name on that check and make sure it’s mine?”  I’d grab the money and run.

My daughter came for a visit in the spring of 2004 and handed me a check for a million dollars.  It took a few seconds to get past the disbelief.  I asked questions, I’m sure, just to hear the news again.  Yes, she repeated, I’m pregnant.  Are you sure?  Yes, we’re sure.  Tests?  Yes.  You’ve seen the doctor?  Yes.  And everything is good?  Yes, everything’s fine.

Here are some of our begats:  My daughter, Cathleen, married Edan, who came here from Israel several years ago.  My mother, Cathleen’s grandmother, was a good-looking, curly-headed woman with big eyes and full lips.  Edan’s grandmother on his father’s side, I’m told, looked much like that.  Since Edan looks like both his grandmother and Cathleen’s grandmother, it seems logical their union could produce a curly-headed girl with big eyes and a great smile.

Caedan Ray will be three years old on Monday and I’ll be in Los Angeles to join her parents and her pre-school friends (she calls them “all my kids”) to share birthday cupcakes.

If you’d told me five years ago that I would be packing tonight for this birthday trip, I wouldn’t have believed you.  But if you tell me now that my Thanksgivings will forever be more meaningful because of a silly little girl born in 2004, I won’t question it.

 Ó By Anita Garner

Bulking Up

Here’s a word I hear every day that was never once spoken aloud during my growing up years.  Fiber.  Today dietary fiber is considered one of the most important aspects of health maintenance and fiber discussions are everywhere.  

The earliest mentions I can recall of better living through fiber had to do with bodily functions, and while older people tend to discuss their bodies as a form of social interaction and even recreation, I’m still not all that comfortable with such in-depth knowledge of other people’s habits.

All of us were aware that Gramma K’s second husband suffered from irregularity.  She announced it frequently, dismayed that he wouldn’t follow her advice, which was “You need more bulk.”  Bulk was the euphemism for all we knew of fiber in food, and bulky foods looked unappetizing compared to the delicious fiber-free meals we generally had on our table.  You couldn’t blame Gramma’s husband for resisting.

Then fiber began to be marketed as a way to lose weight and everyone noticed.  Hello fiber.  Goodbye fat.  In case you missed it, evidently the world runs best on fiber.  They’ve been trying to teach us this for years, but when they began preaching about how certain kinds of fiber sort of whoosh the fat right out of our bodies, America started listening.

I saw a show on PBS called “Brenda Watson’s Fiber 35”  about how you can rock your world by eating that many grams of fiber a day.  It seems a bit ambitious for me.  I’m lucky to get 20 grams a day and right now it looks like I’d have to quit work in order to achieve 35.  But it is getting easier.

I’m conducting my own very skewed, very personal research.  In case you’re wondering how this revolution tastes, I’m only eating fiber-added foods that taste good.  The nutrition/snack bar selection is huge, but I’ve found only one brand so far that tastes like real food.  I love these new sugar-free, low-calorie fudgsicles with fiber added.  There’s a creamy yogurt with several grams of fiber and, of course, a mountain of bread loaves.   I’m trying them all.  (A bread lover doesn’t have any trouble eating bread.)  So far the ones with “double fiber added” are still best used for toast.  

One habit I’ve developed is label-reading.  I know that when I bring home a bag of Cheetos, it’s not going to bulk me up in the good way.  I still eat Cheetos, but now I’m free to enjoy them with absolutely no expectations.

Ó  By Anita Garner

Missing Robert Goulet

Robert Goulet passed away last week at the age of 73.  Now that this handsome man with the big, beautiful baritone and the wicked sense of humor has left us, it’s not likely we’ll hear a voice like that coming from a face like that, with a twinkle in the eye like that, ever again. 

Many of us ladies were introduced to him in our teens, when slightly older women of our acquaintance obtained a copy of the 1960 cast album from “Camelot.”  In my house we had lots of music – bluegrass and blues, old church hymns and southern gospel and lots of country, but we had nothing from Broadway.  Those songs were a world away until cousin Mildred, a sophisticated woman in her early twenties, from Odessa, Texas, got hold of that record with Mr. Goulet singing “If Ever I Would Leave You” and we were gone, all of us.

In 1972 when his “Wonderful World of Christmas” LP was released, my young family declared it an instant favorite.  Every Thanksgiving evening for many years we ceremoniously stacked the Christmas records by the turntable and welcomed the season.

Today I’m delving into boxes to retrieve the Christmas CD’s that replaced the vinyl.  I have a hankering to hear Mr. Goulet sing “Hurry Home For Christmas” right now.  When the season is over and I pack up the music to go back to storage, I’ll be keeping this one out.

Ó By Anita Garner