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'Help me mom, you're my only hope'

Columnist Loren Else says we all have to find our comfort zone regarding the holiday season.

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig

Now that the turkey population has been decimated, Americans turn their focus to December and Christmas. We get to be bombarded by advertisements aimed at spurring us to buy our significant other a new $75,000 vehicle or something similar to the Hope diamond.

Hopefully, all of the holiday ads coming out this year will give us a break from being told to buy a pillow or save 15% on insurance, but I doubt it. The word on the street, Wall Street, is that spending will be big this Christmas season.

The holiday season always brings a bit of a scuffle with ourselves; do we keep buying gifts, how much to spend, the reason for the season, should we bake, Christmas cards, and who’s coming to dinner.

For me, gift-giving loses that luster when you are emailed an Amazon Christmas list by your children and grandchildren. The ever-glorious ‘gift card’ is always a top choice for that meaningful gift.

The list system is convenient, and with a few clicks, a present is on the way, but I just don’t care for the Amazon thing. Why is Amazon in charge of a whole bunch of Christmas shopping? It all seems so impersonal.

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The use of the Amazon list sure doesn’t benefit "buy local" efforts. I understand that sticking to an Amazon gift list will reduce unwanted gifts. If we exchange gift cards, hmm, why?

Many boomers grew up going to church on Christmas with the big side order of Santa and gift-giving. When I was a kid, my parents would take pictures of us kids with our gifts on the big day.

Pictures of me sitting on the floor surrounded by a few new toys occasionally come back to haunt me. If I tried to tell my kids and grandkids sad stories that I never received anything in the old days, those photos have contradicted my accounts of hard times.

Although my family struggled to get by financially, my parents seemed to splurge on Christmas. I don’t remember being asked what I wanted for Christmas. I know I eyeballed those Christmas catalogs, particularly the Sears “Wish Book.” I believe that Montgomery Ward had a toy catalog as well.

As a kid, I had the feeling that if I gave my dad a list or hinted toward something, chances would be zero that I would receive that item. If I had to drop hints, it would be similar to the Princess Leia's "Star Wars" line: “Help me mom, you're my only hope.”

I don’t believe my mom ever ordered Christmas gifts from the catalogs. My gifts would be purchased at our local Gambles, Coast to Coast, or another hardware store. I would hope for the best because you really had no idea what you would get, but almost anything was OK as a kid.

The past few years, we have been hearing about alternative suggestions for gift giving. Options like family events, committing to time together, donations to charities or efforts along that line are excellent ideas. The Post Bulletin recently published a story that local nonprofit organizations have wish lists.

My wife and I continue to struggle with this gift thing, but our kids and grandkids demand a list, so we come up with a couple of books, chocolate and coffee.

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We all have to find our comfort zone regarding the holiday season. I recently read a quote from the great entertainer Bob Hope: “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.”

I think that's a gift we should all have on our lists.

Enjoy the season, my friends.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com .

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