“Gifts for Grandpa and Grandma,” Ensign, Dec. 1984, 64
“Do us a favor,” my dad said to his extended family. “Don’t buy your mother and me a Christmas present this year. We don’t need anything, so save your money.” They were probably right; our presents to them were mere tokens of our feelings, and every year they were given more “things” they could not use. But we—the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—wanted to give them something. What could we give them that would express our love but would also be meaningful to our parents? What could we give them that they wanted, needed, and would enjoy? The answer we came up with was time and attention. Our parents were most happy when we gave them gifts of ourselves—something we could do year round.
So each member of the family—from the oldest child and her spouse to the youngest great-grandchild—chose a date and a specific gift of time and attention he would give on that day. There were enough people in the family to give our parents a gift each week of the year. Then we wrote a clever title for each gift on a large calendar which we gave to our parents at a family Christmas party.
The calendar recorded only the name of the event; no mention was made of what the gift was or who would give it. This gave our parents something to look forward to with curiosity. At the beginning of each week, they anxiously waited for the present to arrive. Their friends also became involved; they all tried to guess what each gift would be, then enjoyed seeing what it really was.
A “Labor of Love” was a gift from a son-in-law who spent a day doing necessary repair jobs.
A daughter and her husband planned “Two Twins Together,” taking our parents to visit Dad’s twin brother in another city. “Call Coming” was a visit by phone from a grandson living in another state. The entire family got together for “Sacks for Stuffed Stomachs,” a family picnic where we brought and traded sack lunches.
Our parents have loved these gifts. And we found so much joy in this project that we have made it a family tradition. It has been very satisfying to receive a call from happy parents saying, “We just got another Christmas present—‘the Tape Tactics.’ It was from Julie and her family. They all talked to us on a cassette tape—they even captured the baby’s gurgling. We love it!”
Whenever family members go to Grandma’s home, the conversation always turns to the latest calendar gift. “It can’t be topped,” our parents say, and yes, it is what they want and need and can use.
Our calendar has become a real gift of love. Sharon Ballif, Ogden, Utah.