DEAR ABBY: With the holidays here, I know you are again being inundated with questions about what kind of gifts to give to seniors. Years ago, I took one of your ideas and decided to help my grandmother with Christmas cards. (She had arthritis, and it was hard for her to write.) It was one of the best presents I ever gave her, and it was lots of fun for me.
I visited her, asked for the names and addresses of the people she wanted to send cards to, and wrote them all down on notebook paper. Then we went through her address book together. She had a story about everyone in the book. At Thanksgiving, I took her to the store to select cards and then addressed them and had her sign them.
As Christmas drew closer, Grandma would tell my mom who had sent her a Christmas card. I realized then that the gift I thought I was giving her was really several gifts -- doing the cards for her, the visits, and her receiving cards because people knew she was thinking of them.
This Christmas I would like to suggest giving the gift of TIME to older persons. Visit, take them to dinner or to the store. The gift I thought I was giving my grandmother turned out to be a precious gift I gave myself. I continued doing it until my grandmother died, and I still miss hearing her wonderful stories. -- GRATEFUL GRANDSON, ROCHESTER HILLS, MICH.
DEAR GRATEFUL GRANDSON: Although today's seniors are living longer and the quality of life is extended, for some there comes a time when infirmity and the death of friends cause them to become isolated. I agree that the most precious gift a person can give another is the gift of self, time and attention in this hyperactive, stressful world we live in today. I hope my readers will take your suggestion to heart because it's a valuable one. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have a holiday gift suggestion for seniors who are on fixed incomes: My Aunt Jane is 85. She's in poor health and virtually stuck at home. She has what she needs -- except, of course, her health, independence and her late husband. She has reached the stage of giving things away -- certainly not collecting more.
With Aunt Jane in mind, I went shopping at a local toy store and selected a bunch of cute items (stickers, balls, jacks, puzzles, etc.). The store generously included enough gift bags and colored tissue for each little purchase.
When I presented Aunt Jane with 10 bags of tiny gifts she could give to her great-nieces and -nephews, she was thrilled. We had a wonderful time together deciding which child would receive which toy and writing appropriate messages on the gift cards.
This gift idea is far more practical than more soaps and sachets than the recipient can ever use. -- MARY L., NEW ORLEANS
DEAR MARY L.: Good ideas come in small packages. Thank you for sending yours.