Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Gifts that really matter

In what’s becoming the dreary tradition during this forever pandemic, people are tired of speeches, rules, and procedures and issued directions on how to live life. Gonna keep it light and quick, everyone is clear on the set of rules they have newly outlined to live by — the topmost of which is to hang around only stuff that really matters, be it people or material things.

What seems to be the general vibe for the new calendar year, typically means exciting new opportunities, a chance for a fresh start, 2022 feels like it could just be another disappointing sequel to 2020 with the rise of Omicron we are all feeling beaten down, we have socially distanced, worn masks, zoomed into important life events for what seems like eternity and each time we have made progress towards normalcy, a new variant arrives and pushes us back into the twilight zone. But I have a feeling 2022 is going to be different, better.

We will know more about Covid than ever before.

We have a growing list of booster shots, at home pills, cocktail drips that can protect the most vulnerable.

We will see quarantine times reduced.

We will see the lockdown era over worldwide

Eventually this thing will, I repeat, will transition into an endemic virus.

We can happily go back to talking about all the things we talked about before Covid.


The season of wracking our brains over appropriate gifts has now come to an end. Though this article comes a tad late, make 2022 the year of change — a change in mindset, stop the recycling of gifts from your storage cupboard and focus on asking yourself what gifts from you will be really appreciated.


What gifts are people really looking for?

What gifts would older adults really want to receive?

Some ideas —

Time — people are way too caught up in making it big in life, ‘money talks, bullshit walks,’ is taken much too seriously from the word go, to the extend of losing touch with inter personal relationships, only work associates matter and the four days of Diwali or Thanksgiving weekend are sometimes saved for family bonding. Make 2022 the year to reach out —

Reach out to your parents, grandparents, or older adult friends

Reach out for a weekly (more is welcome) video call, just like that.

The best gift you can give a person you care for is the gift of your time — cause it never comes back.


Write a phone book — we all know that hand written phone books are kind of redundant, but wait a bit, older adults still love the feel of flipping through a phone book, numbers scribbled everywhere. When was the last time they reorganized their phonebook? What a delightful gift it would be if you wrote out a new phonebook for your parents or grand parents!


Teach them what’s app video — If there is one thing I am ever so grateful for, it is the invention of video calling. The pandemic has kept families separated for years now, if not for video calling there would have been a lot more of fretting and depressed people. Priceless gift, give repeated lessons on video calling to older adults. One session isn’t cutting it, repeat, repeat, repeat till they can comfortably call you for a minute everyday.


A two minute call every day — I cant stress more on how close to ones heart is the sound of a loved one’s voice. There is power in it, there is bonding in it, there is joy in it. Take a minute off your twenty-four hours and call loved ones.


A quick surprise visit with their favourite dinner — A lot of people do not like surprises sprung on them, but let me tell you if your child, grand child, or good friend arrived unannounced that to with your favourite food, ready to share an evening with you in your pajamas, It feels better than winning the lottery.


A lunch or tea date by the river or park or their favourite restaurant — in my hustle and bustle of raising children, working, living between two countries, the one thing I did with my mum regularly was a lunch date of tomato soup and pizza at her favourite restaurant Tratoria. The memory lives on.


A joined visit to the temple or church — The peace and tranquility a place of worship brings is indefinable. Take time to go along with older adults for a visit, it soothes the soul, both yours and theirs.


A movie date at the cinema — There is nothing like going to the cinema and watching a movie on a wide screen, popcorn and ice cream in hand. If you are in need of a good cry (I cry at all movies), carry a pack of tissues, a shawl and treat your older adults to this ‘no conversation-needed’ outing.


Be a good listener with older adults, they love talking, talking about their life experiences. Ask them questions about when they were young, especially grandparents, they love talking about their children. You can initiate conversations with these questions —


  • What do you remember about the place you grew up?
  • What was life like before the invention of color TV, personal computers, the Internet?
  • What slang expressions did you use in your days?
  • What was your favorite movie?
  • What was your first job? How about your favorite job? How much did you earn?
  • Lets write out the family tree together, what do you remember about your parents and grandparents?
  •  What were your children like growing up? Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories about Mom or Dad?
  • What did you and your siblings do for fun?
  • How did you meet grandpa? Was it love at first sight? What was the wedding like?
  • What are the most rewarding things about getting older?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life?
  • Who has influenced you the most?
  • What life advice would you pass along? Take this answer to heart.
  • If you could go back to any age, what would it be?
  •  What was the best day of your life?
  •  What are you the most proud of?
  • What kinds of things make you happy now?
  • Do you have regrets?
  • How would you like to be remembered? This question can be sad, but knowing how your loved one wants to be remembered will help you honor them and tell their story.

All of these conversation starters can be repeated any number of times, chatting about it is never enough.


There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved’ — George Sand

Make these your gifts for older adults in 2022, they will be treasured more than anything else in the world.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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  1. The author is very right. Gifting older people – I am a 69 year old grandfather – needs to show more care than material worth. It is also true older people like me tend to dwell on the past. The younger generation represents the future. When older people get time with the younger generation – children & grandchildren – it is an opportunity to be actively involved in the present & the future. That is the best gift – the gift of being actively engaged today & dream about tomorrow. If your grandparent loved gardening, gift a potted flowering plant which blooms in the balcony & needs daily caring with water. Or a favourite author’s new book. Or a well-liked singer’s new album.


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