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 This helped the training effort in developing countries and was chosen to reflect my interests. I was very grateful.


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.


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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