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  • Nancy Spear

My Sweet Grandma and Gift Giving

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My grandma is 103. Up until a few years ago, she was incredibly active. When she was 90, we used to joke that she was finally acting like an 80-year old.

I’m one of 10 grandchildren. My kids are two of 15 great grandkids. Needless to say, when the holidays come around, there is a lot of gift giving.

When she was in her late 80s, I would drive over and take her to the Westside Pavilion. We’d get all the Hanukah shopping done in one full sweep. She didn’t want to give cash; that would be too easy. She wanted the kids to have actual gifts, in boxes, and wrapped with a ribbon. So we spent several hours picking out clothes for the little ones, sometimes jewelry for the older girls, and then whatever the parents suggested for the older boys.

One year, standing in a long line at Macy’s, a cashier, not realizing who she was dealing with, asked my grandma if she wanted a chair. She didn’t like that at all. She stood in that line in her velour sweat suit and white Reeboks holding on to her purse just like everyone else. (And I just have to take a moment to tell you about those Reeboks. She polished them with actual shoe polish – why get new shoes when all they needed was a little sprucing up?)

But, time marches on and we had to forego our shopping trips as she got older. We still assemble at her house for Hanukkah every year. Even with some kids away at college, we total about 40 in her living room. In lieu of actual purchased gifts in boxes, we’re each called up to receive our envelope of gelt (money) and then get our photo taken with her. Time with her and that photo is our gift more than anything.


Fast forward when I started my business working with older adults: I thought about different services I could offer. How about online shopping so those who couldn’t get out would still be able to give a gift?

Taking it a step further, a friend gave me a great idea. Go to the client’s house, scan photos from her childhood, maybe immigration, school photos, wedding, first child, and assemble a digital photo album with her captions. We could order it and give a copy to each family or grandchild. Imagine living in another state or away from home at college and receiving your grandparent’s life in pictures. (The image here is from the book I made of grandma’s life. It turned out beautifully.)

So – this holiday, think about how you can preserve some memories. I’m happy to assist with a digital photo album. Or, if you or a loved one needs help with safe online shopping, I’m a call or click away.

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