December 7, 2020

from USED to WHAT ON EARTH can I get her, the internet was no help

Mini asked me yesterday how I do Christmas shopping. Do I have a budget? A spreadsheet? Um. Good question. Is 'I-play-it-by-ear' a bad answer? 

Of course she asked this in front of Curly. I have yet to update my internal settings:  it's OK to talk Santa-related topics in front of our youngest, recently-stopped-believing child. 

Curly says it was the ping pong table that clued her in on the no-such-thing-as-Santa deal. She will be 13 in a few weeks, so I think it was time. 

Once the dancing competition is over each year, I switch to gift-buying mode. (I should also start decorating, but I'm always late to join that party). Tank's bday is Dec. 5th. Curly Dec. 19th. Reggie Jan. 9th. No rest for the tired Irish Dance mom.

My shopping:  I vowed this year not to buy Mini ANY CLOTHING. Her closet is a disaster and lately she seems to rotate between a sweatshirt from our trip to Creighton, one from our visit to Eddie, and maybe one more. 

I'm weak. I bought her a few clothing items. I saw her closet last night and wanted to kick myself. No more clothing purchases. I swear. I made her pack her summer stuff in a bin today . . . it being December and all. 

Curly uses my old iPad for her dancing classes on Zoom. The kids also use it for Irish music lessons. It can barely hold a charge anymore. I thought we'd replace it for Christmas. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH AN IPAD COSTS? Here I go again, acting like an 80 year old.

Since I enjoy a good deal, I decided to scour the internet for good used options. If you are interested in a time-suck, used-goods shopping might be for you. Still haven't purchased one, not that I haven't devoted half of my waking hours to this 'hunt.'

Speaking of being almost 80 (OK, it was a whole paragraph ago, sue me). I always buy my mother a very nice article of clothing. She has good taste. This year, I've decided against that. She's 78. They don't go many places - even in normal times. She has plenty to wear. 

I googled what to get an elderly woman for Christmas. The list that popped up included things like a chair that assists elderly people in using the toilet while wheelchair bound. Oh. Wrong list.

This was the photo that popped up when I did my search. I guess I need to be grateful that my mom is a young 78. Elderly, but healthy and active and independent. Thankfully. Someone should make a list for that kind of 78 year old - the kind that is not easy to shop for. 

My mom drives a jag. (Refuses to use the built in GPS). Doesn't embrace technology IN THE LEAST. No cell phone. Prides herself on never having sent an email. Wouldn't even consider planting an Alexa on her countertop. She's a sharp dresser who goes for long walks even in the cold - so long as there is no ice. She won't drive in the snow. Doesn't like crowds. Has enough legit real jewelry to sink the Titanic, again - slight exaggeration. She doesn't drink coffee, has never tasted beer. Doesn't enjoy traveling. No longer reads books. She bakes, but wouldn't embrace anything like hip-new cookie sheets. 

I had no idea what to get her, so I bought her a wellness mat thing from William-Sonoma to stand on in the kitchen. It is supposed to make standing more comfortable. I'm thinking she can use it when she bakes, or prepares all of my father's meals. If she isn't home, he waits for her to make him a sandwich. (Don't get me started).

I didn't get the one I wanted to get her with a pretty design, because it couldn't be shipped and was not available in a store near me. I had to go with one that could be returned, because I'm confident that she will be returning it. 
(image compliments of William Sonoma website)
If I had to guess, she'll probably say that she is afraid she'd trip on it. 

I am NOT the kind who comes up with amazing, thoughtful gifts for people. (other than the thing I found for Reg which I will describe in a later post). Do you find gift buying easy? 

I do love to shop, but I'm not great at shopping for people who already have good stuff. One of my godson's who is 13 has everything. Literally. I had no idea what to get him. I went with a hammock and lighting strips to decorate his room. 

Someone on your list tough to buy for?


Nicole MacPherson said...

I would say I'm not the best at gift-giving, I like to have a list of what people like/ want/ need. Some people are fun to shop for and some are definitely a chore. My own mom is super easy to buy for as she is thrilled with pretty much anything I give her. I've recently switched to giving clothes to my MIL as she never shops for herself. It's been a hit!

Nicole MacPherson said...

Also? Your mom has never used email? That is absolutely incredible!

Kari said...

I hate shopping for anyone other than my kids. There, I said it. I can't believe you still buy for your parents when you have SIX KIDS. God bless you. Please tell me that you don't have to buy gifts for all of your nieces and nephews.

Wendy said...

My mom is 82 and a walker as well. One of my better gift ideas for her was this silky underlayer stuff (I think it's from Land's End) that you wear under your clothes to keep you warm. It's not thick like thermal underwear, and she was able to just layer it under her walking clothes for those colder days.

I did crack up at the toilet chair thing though - she would kick my ass if I bought her something like that, lol!

Kara said...

My parents will turn 68 this year, so sending them toilet assist thing would probably make them kill me. They do use email. They do have an Alexa on their counter. My Dad was so thrilled when his cable company upgraded to voice remotes.

We do group gifts to my parents, generally send them gift certificates to resorts they like or onboard credits for cruises that they're planning on taking (but not in 2020 or 2021 at this rate). One year we prepaid for them to get remote starters in their cars (by making payment arrangements with "their" mechanic and having that on record when they had the time to take the cars in for service). Another year we got them snowshoes. No idea what we're doing this year though.

Ernie said...

Nicole- I have occasionally stumbled upon a perfect gift for someone, but otherwise I am not one to think outside the box. My dad sends out a list of the books he wants and then we all email one another to say "I got this one." My mom collects nativity sets, but she has SO many (probably at least 30) it seems silly to add to that.

My dad does email and computer related tasks and my mom fees him. I guess it's a good system for them. I should also mention, my mom is literally the most stubborn woman alive. The cell phone thing is just silly. They can afford it and they are old so it makes sense to have a phone in case they need something. Mind-blowing.

Ernie said...

Kari - Up until a few years ago we were still doing the draw a name gift system for my huge family. Coach's family had stopped that years earlier. I would have godchildren gifts to buy and then 6 niece or nephew gifts depending on what names my kids drew. I suggested we pull the plug on that and before that I suggested that the adults stop buying for each other (also drawing names). My sister Ann, the world's largest control freak, had a massive shit fit and and called me a bad name at Thanksgiving dinner because I suggested it.

Kevin has 2 godchildren of his own. I have 4 godchildren of my own. Then we are godparents to two kids together. We buy for all of them. I don't ask for ideas anymore for the younger ones, I just do gift receipts. Add my kids' b-days in and it is a lot. We do not buy for Kevin's parents. They would never take a gift. Years ago I did a calendar with photos of the kids or I made videos for them to watch while we were in Florida, but I don't bother anymore. His mother doesn't shop and doesn't do gifts. They give money for bdays and they insist they don't want anything.

Ernie said...

Wendy - I cracked up at that too, and I then I re-thought my post because I didn't want to seem insensitive since there are certainly people in their age bracket who have more struggles, but I needed more of a 'fortunately sharp and active elderly person list.

I LOVE the idea of the under-layer for walking. I might have to look into that. Thanks!

Ernie said...

Kara - your folks are spring chickens. Glad they are embracing available technology. I love your gift ideas. My folks do like to go downtown to stay at the Drake Hotel just before St. Pat's Day when my brother, Pat, plays his Irish music at a huge concert every year. It was cancelled last year. My dad is definitely getting more feeble. Not sure how much more traveling or even staying downtown he will do - by the time everything opens back up he might be ready to retire that activity.

I have vowed to NEVER go in on a combined gift with my sister Ann again. She's way too controlling. For my mom's bday last year she asked me after she already bought an antique locket if I wanted to go in on it with her. Then she wouldn't tell me how much she spent saying it didn't matter what I contributed because she was giving it to her anyway and that my other sister already agreed to go in on the gift. I still wanted to give my share legitimately. Then when my dad turned 80 in May she went nuts when I wouldn't jump through hoops to make a photo book for him. Wouldn't take no for an answer. Started texting my kids to demand that they gather up the photos she wanted. She basically hasn't talked to me since, and that ain't such a bad thing.

Gigi said...

I think once your mom stands on that mat she will love it. We have two in our kitchen and I'm thinking about a third.

My mother-in-law is 88 (??) and wants for nothing. Generally, for her gifts I go for a multitude of consumables. She loves Jelly Belly jelly beans, coffee, puzzle books. So she gets those often. For her birthday and Mother's Day this year, I've sent scented soaps, hand lotion, lip balm, etc.

I have to say she was EXTRA pleased with the Jelly Bellies this year - she was convinced since the stores were closed I wouldn't be able to send them.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I struggle with gift-giving for certain people. But, about 10 years ago, I threw in the towel and told everyone in our family that we should only purchase gifts for the kids and the kids can make/buy something for the grandparents. No more gifts for my BIL, Aunt, made our lives so much easier! We get a few things for our kids (now, it's usually cash and a few items) and nothing for each other aside from stuffing our stockings.
Your mom is a tough one. And how does one go 78 years without having a beer? This might be the answer to allllll your questions. She needs a beer. HA! The mat was a good choice though; hopefully, she'll enjoy it.
I always tried very hard to keep my gift-giving to the girls equal. Equal in money that is. even though it wouldn't be an issue with them. How the hell do you know what you've bought for each kid? Do you write it down somewhere?

Anonymous said...

I have a brainwave for about one person per Christmas, and whoever that person happens to be gets a great gift. Other people get decent things, but I'm generally most pleased with the brainwave one. I wouldn't say that I'm good at gifts, though. I hate shopping and it takes me forever to pick things for people.

Oh, and I have to say: last year, my kid's school had the teachers fill out these little forms of things the teachers liked. My kid's main teacher, a guy, left half the answers blank and put a sport down as his favorite thing in three places. Not hockey, but pretend it was hockey. I still think that the office person should have sat him down and said: "Dude. This is not that form! Tell people you shop at Target or something!"

Ernie said...

Gigi - I hope that my mom stands on the mat and likes it, but she has to agree to lay it down on the floor first. She's a tough nut to crack.

I wish I was better at getting people things that they wouldn't buy themselves. I absolutely love scented liquid soaps at other people's houses, but I never buy them for myself. I think part of it is not knowing which ones will smell good. When I see people with cute liquid soaps arranged by their sinks in little holders I think: this here is an adult. True story.

So sweet that your MIL was excited about her jelly bellies.

My mom used to be really big on planting flowers but she can't get down and plant since having her knees replaced. I buy her nice arrangements from Costco every Mother's Day for her patio. This year they died WAY TOO SOON, and I swapped them out at Costco for fresh ones. She was thrilled.

Ernie said...

Suz - I laughed at 'she needs a beer' - hilarious.

Coach's family pulled the plug on buying gifts for godchildren who are 18 and over. We're still getting Coach's godson a gift card to eat out. I don't care. It made things SO much easier to not have to buy for the adult name draw and kid draw that we used to do. That was 12 extra kid gifts and 4 extra adult gifts.

Maybe it's because of the socially deprived year (and we aren't all that social to begin with, we fall more in the 'tired' category), but I crave sitting and talking with adults (in Coach's family, specifically) vs. the gift part of the holidays. Its a good transition to care less about 'stuff' and more about seeing people. We plan to host Coach's brother and sister and their families on Dec. 26th. I sure hope it happens.

It is a lot to track, not gonna lie. I have tried lists, but generally I just keep a mental image in my head of what people have in their 'piles'. I would generally do lego box for two of the boys, compared to doll clothes or a doll bed for the girls. Often I would get everyone similar stuff to fill in around the one or two big gifts, like winter hats and books, and an ornament. Some years I made Coach keep them busy and I dragged it all out of my closet and spread it out so I could see if there were any 'holes' to my system. I'm the first to admit, I didn't do good sticking to a budget.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - It is fun when you get that gift that you know is going to be a huge hit. I bought Curly jeans and a shirt for her b-day, but after standing in her closet yesterday I am thinking of taking it back and doing something else. The. Clothes. Ugh.

That teacher did need a talking to. What was he expecting every family to get him tickets to a game? Goofball.

Bibliomama said...

"because I'm confident she'll be returning it" HA HA HA. It's good that you know that.

I think I am a pretty good gift-giver. I'm good at remembering comments people drop that give hints to good gifts for them. But some people are just really hard to get gifts for (I like to console myself with the thought that it's because they just don't take much joy in life). My dad doesn't need anything and wouldn't blink an eye if no one got him anything, but he really liked the "I'm too old for this shit" flask I got him last year (after we went to Elmira to watch Angus's night time baseball game and he almost froze to death). My mom reads a lot so that's always a good possibility. I think your gift for your mom is very thoughtful, and I agree she will probably find fault with it.

Bibliomama said...

OH, and as your mom collects Nativity sets - my daughter just showed me the new "minimalist" ones. Look them up, I'm sure she'd be thrilled (not).

Ernie said...

Ali - I can't figure out why my mom doesn't read anymore. I feel like she told me once. But I forgot. That would suck to be stuck in the house and not be able to read (and NOT have mountains of laundry to do, etc.)

I'm honestly fine if she decides to return it. It's the thought. Honestly, if she doesn't want it I will be the one hauling it back to the store. That will be part of the gift, free, no hassle returns.

OMG - those minimalist nativity sets were a hoot. She would be SO confused. I saw on my fav news program this morning that a mom tried to make her kid feel bad for leaving a dirty sock on the floor. Turned it into an art exhibit with a card detailing the exhibit. Added stuff to the exhibit and turned it into a nativity scene. The sock became the infant's crib. It was pretty hilarious. Here's me though: ONE SOCK? This mom would not last a day in my house. I found the nativity set with the minimalist ones and I actually think it is pretty cool. Not as minimal as the others.