Aging Well

Opt for gifting meaningful objects, not more stuff

More than half of American regretted the amount they spent last year on holiday gifts. What if this year, instead of heading online to repeat the same mistake, you instead looked around your home for just the right thing?

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Surround yourself with objects with meaning
Liisa Ogburn

My daughter just informed me that there is yet another opportunity to SAVE BIG on something she hopes to find under the Christmas tree next week.

Ahh... the sophisticated psychology behind the marketing messages we are being barraged with nonstop this week before Christmas. How does one not get caught up in the flurried atmosphere of buy, buy, buy? Even as I write this blog, my sidebar flashes with shiny, colorful options that I can purchase with one click.

I've found it's helpful to step back and remember the feeling beneath the impulse to buy, which at its root is to show love.

When I look around my home office--it is small, a former linen closet we carved out for my daughter's bedroom, then re-purposed for my office when she left for college--there are very few items (except for the Bath & Body Stress Relief Candle) that can be purchased from a mall. Instead it is mostly photos, cards my children or friends have made me, poems, books, a few plants and my meditation cushion.

Last year, my friend Martha Coffey, gave out items from around her home. Knowing I am Scandinavian, she gave me a beautiful Norwegian vase.

My neighbor Barbara Wishy gave out copies of the story she put together for her children and grandchildren, recounting her youth and escape (on her fourth attempt) from East Germany alone as a young woman. (Riveting!)

My Finnish mother, in attempting to do a “Swedish death cleaning,” has been emptying her shelves of precious heirlooms. That is how I came to have some wooden objects my great uncle Paavo-seta carved while a young man in Viipuri before skiing west to escape the Russian takeover of his town during the Winter Wars. Her granddaughter loves and wears the Merimekko dresses that my mom made for herself nearly sixty years ago.

I know it is hard to resist purchasing a new Fisher Price toy for a toddler, but maybe it is less so doing the equivalent for your teenage grandson? Maybe your teenage grandson or college age granddaughter really would prefer the utility knife their grandfather kept on his belt or vintage hat grandmother bought at Cameron Village in the forties? And if they don't appreciate it now, they may appreciate it as they age.

What they will probably not keep or maybe remember who gave it to them or even when is that SAVE BIG SPECIAL bought impulsively the week before Christmas 2021, "a real steal."

According to Bankrate, more than half of spenders last holiday season regretted the amount they spent. Is that a surprise? We all know that. Why then do we keep doing it?

Right now, I'm sitting at my writing desk looking at what objects I have surrounded myself with. Poems, kid's handwritten notes, photos, tiny momentos with a story. Life itself is too rich to spend the last minutes before everyone arrives further exhausting oneself with frenzied shopping. It seems apt to keep in mind that famous Maya Angelou quote, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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