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How to choose the best gifts for active grandparents

Updated on October 3, 2014
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Finding the perfect gift for active grandparents is an opportunity

This is the story of two people who were important to me. These were active seniors. They were older (as I am now) and had real lives beyond what we saw as children. As it turned out, I inherited many of the hankie sets, aprons, and ties that were really never used.

What if we had given it more thought?

What if we had looked at them as people with wants and desires?

What's important here is not that these people were elderly or senior citizens. We never gave a thought to who they were beyond grandparents.

My grandma, Mellie Farris Rhea

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Granny

In the old days we gave Granny a hankie set and a nice scarf for Christmas. We were kids, it was the 1950s, and no one thought outside the box. Looking at the picture, I see so much more. If she were still here today, I would make her Christmas something to remember.

My grandmother was a tiny lady who ruled a small real estate empire and Grandpa, not to mention the three boys. She was so much more than a grandparent.

Why I would buy my grandmother a pressure canner

There was a winter in Montana where all the family gathered for Christmas. Actually, we always went to Montana for Christmas and it was a long drive from California. Once we took the train and that's a story all by itself.

Anyway, that winter is the first time we really saw it snow. My four cousins, my brother and I had walked to downtown Billings. We love to go there because the store windows were all decorated with Christmas scenes. On the way back, it started to snow. All of us are California kids and snow is not something we are used to seeing so we were really excited.

We rushed back to tell our parents. Inside my grandparents house, the adults were all quiet, shushing us as they tried to determine what the tinkling sound was. It was not a normal sound, but a gentle pinging that was coming from somewhere in the kitchen.

My grandmother moved closer to the door of the service porch where it got louder. She opened the door but there was nothing there to make that sort of sound. She moved to the basement door and it was then she discovered the sound was coming from down there.

We all rushed to the door to see what was making the sound. It was all the jars she had canned, floating and clinking together as the water got higher. The water main in the street had broken and was filling all the basements in the area.

My grandmother canned everything she could get her hands on. We managed to salvage all the jars but the basement was pumped out by the city. The water main was fixed and life went on.

What occurs to me is the time she spent canning everything. She would have enjoyed the electric pressure canner. It would not have made the prep easier but the programmable appliance would have freed up a little of her time to do other things.

Haier MWM0701TB Compact 2/3-Cubic-Foot 700-Watt Microwave Oven, Black
Haier MWM0701TB Compact 2/3-Cubic-Foot 700-Watt Microwave Oven, Black

Grandpa had a hot plate in the apartment but a microwave is always a great addition.

 

My grandpa, William Ogden Rhea

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Grandpa

When Grandpa retired from the railroad as the Station Master in the Billing, Montana depot, he became one of the original snowbirds. He left Montana in the winter and headed for Mesa, Arizona where he lived the life of a bachelor for three months. I still remember the smell of his small apartment. Obviously not a very bright child, I didn't realize the smell was chewing tobacco and I don't remember ever seeing him do that.

Still, he was always in Montana at Christmas because that's where we went for the holiday.

We probably got him a tie or maybe slippers. Not terribly original.

His trips to Arizona were the result of tuberculous. The winters were hard on his lungs and so each year, he would board the train and head south. I loved visiting him there. He had a tiny one room apartment that bordered the city park. We had the whole park to play in while the older folks visited.

I remember that he had a one burner hot plate where he cooked all of his meals. My gift would have been a microwave. He would have gotten a kick out of it as a "newfangled" device.

Stocking stuffers for my grandparents

My grandmother was very involved in the Democratic Party in the 1930s and 1940s. She was on several boards and always attended the Conventions. She would roll over in her grave to know that I no longer vote party lines. She was a smart business woman and way ahead of her time. She would have gotten a big kick out of the Retro Button.

My grandfather always had a pocket watch. There was no way you would find one on his wrist. By the same token, my grandfather never cared for paper money and his pockets always jingled with silver dollars that he would give to us to spend at the store. I wish I had kept them.

I would have given him the Steam Locomotive pocket watch to honor his profession.

Celebrate your grandparents for the people they were before you were born. It makes shopping an adventure and an opportunity to say thank you for all that they have shared with you.

Steam Locomotive Conductor's Train Pocket Watch Silver-plated,
Steam Locomotive Conductor's Train Pocket Watch Silver-plated,

Grandpa had a pocket watch but I like this one and might have purchased it just because I wanted to recognize his profession.

 

My friends are active grandparents.

Diane doesn't go anywhere before she finishes her game of tennis. That's the first thing she does every morning.

Cindy enjoys restoring vintage trailers and makes new upholstery, awnings, and new curtains for each one of them.

Jim loves photography and is never without his camera. Fortunately, his grandkids love to be photographed.

These people are not sitting at home in a rocking chair. Their grandchildren know who they are and what they like.

Diane gets a bucket of tennis balls each year from her grandkids. Seems boring to some but she appreciates the gift.

Cindy's grandkids bought her a new state-of-the-art sewing machine. It has lots of bells and whistles and makes her creations so much easier.

Jim's grandkids watch for sales on accessories for his camera and come Christmas, have quite a collection for him.

I got a Kindle. I am a reader and it has been the best gift ever.

Don't get me wrong, grandparents appreciate all the gifts their grandchildren give them. It's just a little more special when they choose items they know their grandparents will love.

Disclaimer here: If it is a homemade gift, it is treasured beyond all others.

Comments are welcomed

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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Great hub, and so true all you have written. Kids today do not even visit their grandparents. I see this everywhere, I don't know why.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 

      6 years ago

      My great grandmother lived to 104, and worked making custom leather clothing up until weeks before she passed. She'd have loved most of the items on this, especially the Kindle. She passed on her love of reading like a precious gift in its own right!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 

      6 years ago

      Awesome picks! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • markettrol profile image

      markettrol 

      6 years ago

      Great Lens....Grandparents are very special people and should receive very special presents......Time to say thank you!!!!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      I agree with you that many seniors receive stock gifts of cologne and hankies which they save for years unused in a drawer. Your gifts are very thoughtful and more personal.

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