|My dad enjoying Christmas - aged 70|
About this time of year, our family members start nagging each other for their Christmas gift list. Ideally, these are drawn up in price categories and with very detailed specs if necessary. e.g. my dad's used to say things like 'drill bit, 16mm' with the name of his preferred manufacturer etc. Most items would be under $50 - so these days that would make things difficult for those with expensive tastes. Let them buy their own stuff. I must take after my dad as I am not interested in perfume (don't wear it), I prefer not to eat chocolates and my list always says things like inks for my printer - HP Deskjet No.88, or voucher for Builder's Warehouse. My daughter is always disgusted at such requests and insists that I should list something personal, that I wouldn't buy for myself. (Well, I just did, didn't I?) So I have tried - I need a new cream handbag for summer, I told her. Since then I realise I should have specified - soft material (so that it will squash under the seat of my scooter), must be machine-washable, must have zipper on top and no flaps or buckles, also no inside compartments. On second thoughts, I really need to get that myself. I could specify some book titles, perhaps? But then I only read fiction, and once you know who-dunnit, you never read that book again. Besides, I now have my Kindle and can occasionally indulge in a digital book by massaging my home accounting system and putting the item in the 'Food' column. It's no good saying it's the thought that counts. How many insincere smiles and expressions of false thanks have been associated with gift-giving on Christmas Day? Don't say, we can forgo the gifts and give the money to charity. That's a different issue and we do that separately. The thing is we all like to see a huge pile of presents under the tree and the excitement and anticipation of the build-up. And I mean all of us, not just the children. The answer for me may well be a voucher tastefully wrapped in a shoe-box. Often we have lots of laughs. I found this photo of my dad, aged 70, at my brother's house. (Note how he dressed up for Christmas). It appears someone gave him a symbolic pair of gumboots but no-one can remember why it struck him as so funny. Sadly, this was another Christmas I missed out on, living the other side of the world. My dad wasn't known for his sense of humor, so this pic is something to treasure. Maybe we must hold on to our personal Christmas traditions while we can - there is a move afoot in the UK to abolish those two Public Holidays. What a sad day that would be.