When my grandmother was 95 years old, she lived in an assisted living facility several hours away (though in the same town as one of her children, my uncle). We had always seen each other several times a year – usually Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, if nothing else. As she grew older, it became more and more difficult to find her gifts that I knew she would use. Everyone bought her candy – and lots of it. I was sure she had secret stacks of truffles, creams, bonbons, confections and chocolates of never-ending variety piled in the closet. Clothing was much the same way. There’s only so much a person can wear, and I knew she was better stocked than her dresser drawers allowed. Lotions and perfumes were getting more and more difficult for her shaking hands to apply. And, there was certainly no need for knick-knacks and whatnots in her small assisted living “apartment.”
What was left?
I thought about it for a while. What did my grandmother truly want? What would make her happiest?
How many times had my grandmother told me how much she loved to receive letters from me? (Oh, dozens. Every time I saw her for years, it seems.) And how slow had I been in sending her any? (Far, far too slow.) So, I visited my favorite thrift store where all the greeting cards were only $.05. I picked out an assortment of 52 I thought she would enjoy – one for each week of the year – and tied them with a beautiful green bow. Then, I set them inside a lovely box and closed the lid.
When her birthday arrived, I presented them to her, and then brought them back home with me. I left the box with her. I sent her a short letter inside a card each week until she died a little less than a year later. At her funeral, my uncle explained to me that she loved the letters so much, she would read them to him each week.
The best gifts aren’t necessarily expensive, but they are thoughtful. Spend some time thinking about what a person truly desires of you. What would make them smile? Give from your heart – not your wallet.