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Parents, it’s your turn

Be a Santa and make it a surprise!

Here I go again. I know the holidays are not supposed to be this way, and every year I vow not to do this again. But here I am stressed about not having enough time, still shopping to do, no food (say nothing of cookies!) at home, house not decorated, cards to send, fit in a couple parties and on and on and on. Get a grip! It’s Christmas and yes, it’s about time, but not rushing just to “get through” everything. It’s about giving to others, not stressing about ideas for gifts. It’s about the excitement, not getting all excited!

I took a moment to think about the survey I had just read at work. I sat back to really listen to those who have more experience in life than I do.  Home Instead Senior Care polled 500 seniors and those seniors hit it right on the head! The survey revealed what we all know — eight out of 10 said time would be the most special gift they could receive. Seniors surveyed couldn’t always recall their favorite gift from the previous year, but they could recall who they spent the holidays with.  

When gifts were listed they were very practical. Seniors, as a group, have always been a frugal lot. Out of necessity or perhaps, driven by worry, the economic downturn has made older adults even more practical. Social services budget cuts also have impacted the pockets of seniors, leaving some lacking the money for necessities. Ideas on the list were things like blankets, slippers, pajamas. Also included were food, gas and grocery store gift cards, and personal care items.

And the majority of seniors wanted it to be a surprise! Even seniors, frugal seniors, want something at Christmas that would be a surprise!

And surprise them we will! During the second week in December, we delivered 585 gifts through the Be A Santa To A Senior Program. This program is community based and is designed to do simply that — surprise a deserving senior with a gift this holiday season. It started with names received from various non-profit resources in the community. The list included gift ideas for each senior. The lists, as predicted, were very practical with very, very simple things, but gifts that will be much appreciated. 

Ornaments with names and gift ideas went on various trees around the community. While seniors’ needs for the basics have increased, so has the generosity of those who are giving gifts to older adults. Last year when the gifts were received through the Be A Santa to a Senior program, not only did the package include the gifts requested on the tag, but usually much more.  

And then there’s the time spent, volunteers who delivered the gifts came back with story upon story of hugs, smiles and a few tears. Deliverers received fresh baked cookies and invitations to return. One card thanked the program for “the pleasant woman who delivered my gifts.”  It’s about the time. Other comments we received were “I feel so special” and “what a wonderful Christmas surprise.”  It’s about the surprise. 

In case you’re still a little behind (like me) here’s some ideas for that special senior in your life. In case you really want to make a difference spend the time when you deliver the gift, and be sure to make it a surprise! Enjoy a peace-filled Christmas.

10 popular and economical gifts for seniors:

1. Blankets and throws.

2. Slippers and socks.

3. Toiletries such as lotions, bath soaps, cologne and perfume.

4. Pajamas and robes.

5. Food such as sausages, cheeses and chocolates.

6. Kitchen and bath towels.

7. Clothes such as sweat pants, sweaters and underwear.

8. Large print books and puzzles.

9. Cards and stamps.

10. Gift certificates to grocery and discount stores.  

DEB CRANNY is the executive director at Home Instead Senior Care in Brainerd.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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