DEAR ABBY: Last year I missed your column on Christmas gifts for seniors. I remember in the past you printed some great suggestions, and since there are several seniors on my list this Christmas, how about helping us again? -- JESSICA IN ANAHEIM, CALIF.
DEAR JESSICA: Certainly! I combed my past columns and found a wealth of ideas that come from the heart, not the wallet. Remember, most seniors have more than their share of dusting powder and aftershave, and have run out of room for bud vases and bird feeders. Consider these more practical alternatives:
-- Postcards or lined stationery and envelopes with a generous supply of postage stamps.
-- A gift certificate for their favorite grocery store, deli or pharmacy.
-- An assortment of greeting cards for birthdays and anniversaries, as well as get-well and condolence cards.
-- A "paid in advance" certificate for 10 lawn mowings or snow shovelings by a neighborhood youngster.
-- A "certificate" for a service you can perform that is difficult for them -- a thorough house cleaning, a month's laundry, a handyman visit for home safety inspection and minor repairs.
-- An offer to rewrite their address book in larger, more legible print.
-- A month of Sunday drives to church, or to the country, the museum or the park.
-- If the person on your list is on a limited income, a check in any amount will be appreciated.
-- A subscription to their favorite magazine or the daily newspaper.
-- A basket of goodies assembled especially for them -- cans of ham, tuna, chicken, hearty soups, chili and stew; instant coffee and tea bags; crackers; instant soup mixes.
-- A selection of their treasured, tattered photos retouched and placed into a new album, with captions.
-- A drive to see the Christmas lights and decorations, as well as store windows.
If a senior says, "Please don't give me anything," that usually means, "I have more things than I need." However, a gift of your time may be appreciated and will be remembered long after the holiday has passed and the material gifts are stored away.