Christmas Gifts

penandpencil set

When my father died some twenty years ago my brother and I had the job of sorting out his possessions. They did not amount to much. We found one draw that was full of calculators and pen and pencil sets; most were still in their cases. Family members who felt obliged to buy him something for Christmas or his birthday saw that he did not have a decent calculator or pen and so bought him one. He neither wanted nor appreciated the gift and stuck it away in a back draw.   It was a frustrating experience for both giver and recipient.

I hope that I am not as curmudgeonly as my father but I too am sceptical about this Christmas ritual. I cannot think of anything I want and if I did I would go out and buy it. I spend a little on downloadable music but like to choose it myself. I realise that this sort of statement could only be written by an ageing baby boomer who is financially secure – but there are a lot of us about. I therefore feel that the discussion on suitable Christmas gifts should move in a different direction.

Unless we are greedy, people like me spend our marginal disposable income on experiences rather than possessions. I have enough possessions: I like hats, for example, but have only one head and my collection is sufficient. Experiences are a different matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rugby World Cup and before that the London Olympics; I spent money on tickets and saw a lot of the events. Many of our friends spend their disposable income on travel or meals in restaurants. The most sensible solution therefore would be for the ageing baby-boomer to ask for money for Christmas – I can remember doing that when I was a child and was saving up for something special that I wanted.

However I doubt if such a solution would be culturally acceptable. Fortunately I can offer a more sensible alternative. I received a most acceptable present when my wife purchased a ‘Send training’ gift from the charity Send a Cow http://www.sendacow.org/. This helped the training effort in developing countries and was chosen to reflect my interests. I was very grateful.

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The next edition of this blog will be published on 1st January. In 2016 I will be considering some problems of ageing and retirement, and the obligations and challenges facing my generation. My very best wishes for the holiday season.

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One thought on “Christmas Gifts

  1. “We found one draw”. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, Martyn, but this is the error that got the title character (Henry Fonda) convicted of murder! I trust you avoid this outcome, and I wish you the compliments of the season.

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