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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

It's the thought that matters

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

By now I am sure that everyone has bought and wrapped every present for every person on the list. No? Have you forgotten someone? Will the girls know that the gift I gave to Sally cost more than the gift I have wrapped for Barbara? (I substituted names to protect the innocent.)

I was reared by parents who firmly believed that all interaction with their children would be equal. There could be no suggestion of favoritism and sometimes my mother would go to extremes to be fair and equal.

An example of this was when we lived as their neighbors in the 50s and our youngest child was a baby. My mother saw a very cute coat and hat that would be perfect for Mark. It was not a traditional time for gift giving. Even though she really wanted to see her grandson in the coat when we took him to Sunday School, she didn't want to buy it for him because then she would have to buy all the other 22 grandchildren a gift.

I reminded her of the time when we still were in Washington, D.C., in the winter when she bought all of the oldest three grandchildren matching corduroy Christmas outfits for a Christmas picture. That was 15 years before Mark was born. But was that fair to those who hadn't been born yet? They had the bounty of twenty or more years with their Gray grandparents, whereas our younger children did not get to know them very well.

It ended up that Mark received the little navy blue coat and hat and we have a picture to prove it.

In spite of my logic with my mother I still have the same problems with my enlarging family. Some of the great-grandchildren have so many grandparents, great- grandparents, aunts and uncles, that Christmas or birthday gifts just come rolling in. Others have only one or two regular gift givers. Do I give the same to those who are gifted to extremes as to those who get very few extras? Of course not. But I still worry about any perceived favoritism in the children's' minds.

Age comes in here also. When my grandchildren were small I cherished outings such as a trip to the zoo, circus or a picnic. I could carry one child on my hip and lead another into many exciting adventures. With the great- grandchildren I find that it is more fun to just finance an outing and let one of the younger relatives carry it out for me. But does that mean anything to those taking part in the fun? I doubt that they even worry about who is paying for what. To them, everything comes free, in spite of our constant reminders to them that we are not rich.

I was not blessed with many years of knowing my grandparents. But I had two generous child-less aunts who were important to my life. I still value some of the gifts that these special ladies gave me. It was usually a book, and I still have most of them. Often the gift was given to my sister Ellen and me together so she has kept some of them also. But since I was younger, they sort of ended up with me. I don't know what they gave my older siblings. I'm sure they must have given them gifts also, but all I remember is what they gave me.

Maybe that should be a lesson for me in my worries about our young ones. Maybe they don't really pay that much attention to what the others got as long as they got something from me. But just in case I think I'll add a little something extra to Barbara's present.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus