Simplifying the Holidays

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As the holidays near, many grandparents find themselves experiencing an annual quandary: What to get the grandkids?

Dick Haid, a grandparent from Hamilton, Ohio, has facilitated workshops based on the popular book Unplug the Christmas Machine. He notes that grandparents in his classes say that “their grandkids are so ‘gift-saturated’ that they feel that the presents they give hardly even register.”

In Unplug the Christmas Machine, the authors point to four things that kids really want at Christmas time:

• a relaxed and loving time with the family,

• realistic expectations about gifts,

• an evenly paced holiday season, and

• reliable family traditions.

These are, indeed, what all of us want during the holidays. Focusing on these basics – enjoyable family get-togethers and treasured rituals, downplaying the gifts – will ensure that you and your grandchildren have lifelong, cherished holiday memories.

Instead of trying to “up the ante” on gifts, Haid recommends low- and no-cost presents – for grandchildren and others on your list. Among his many examples are coupons for “gifts of yourself,” items like a car wash or a knitting lesson. He also suggests “gifts of experience” such as a promise to take a house-bound neighbor to see holiday displays or an offer to go bird-watching with a grandchild. Homemade gifts are, obviously, another possibility and can be as simple as a collection of tried and true recipes or an album of family photos.

– Marie Sherlock 


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