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A View From Hickory Heights: A simpler Christmas

Last year we were encouraged not to gather as families for Christmas. This year we are cautiously optimistic.

We thought with the vaccine that we would be in a far better place, but it is not to be. Although families may gather, it will not be the same.

Even children are aware of the difference a year makes. After all they wear masks to school and almost everywhere else they go. Why not take the opportunity to make Christmas something really special? Why not make a simple Christmas?

One girl on Facebook asked if anyone had some action figures they were ready to part with. She said she would rather pay them than go to the store. That got me thinking. Maybe we can do Christmas differently. There are classified ads in the newspapers selling all sorts of things. There are ads on Facebook offering things. Maybe we can help each other out by buying our Christmas things this way.

Then, there are the very small stores that offer things made by people in the community. Why not patronize them? Surely there is something there that people on your list would like.

There is always ETSY on-line. There are a tons of homemade things there. Our granddaughter sews costumes and offer them for sale. If your little one likes costumes look it up.

Do not think of the mountains of presents this year. Make it a truly humble Christmas. Give the necessities.

Our family had a tradition of filling our stockings with useful things. The kids got special toothpaste. They got an apple or an orange.

They got candy. Maybe a pair of cute socks. It was fun to shop to fill the stockings. I looked for that special item that would be unexpected.

One year I put a note in a small box telling our daughter that she could get her ears pierced. That really brought a smile!

How about we avoid all of the imported stuff? Just tell the children Santa had a hard time making things this year. He could not get the raw materials. His elves were sick. You can make up something here.

Now, I know all of you working mothers are busy. Maybe you could bake something special for people on your list. It really would not take any more time than going to the store and buying something. Shopping and wrapping take a lot of time. Be inventive. The children can even help you with this. They will love it!

When my grandparents were in their “golden years” I knew that there was really nothing that they needed.

They had money to purchase the necessities. I baked all of their favorite kinds of cookies and sent them to them via my mother. She used to come most weekends and could deliver them. I delivered them one kind at a time so as not to overwhelm them. That helped my budget, too. They were so pleased to get those cookies.

One year I was really stuck with what to get the grandchildren for their birthdays. I decided to purchase some of their favorite treats, then give them a monetary gift as well. It was such a hit that I still continue to do that.

What do I buy? Each one is different so I buy what they like. My son likes buttermilk and V-8 juice. He likes tuna fish and sardines. He also likes egg salad – I make that for him. His wife does not like any of those things so she does not buy them. My daughter likes cookies from her favorite bakery – the kind with a frosting strip down the middle.

I also bought her some packages of cheese and some meat to eat with crackers. I know when she eats alone that is probably how she eats. Oh, did I say she likes chocolate!

You design the things your child/grandchildren will like.

Whatever you get it is only for the one you bought it for.

They can share it if they wish, but it is theirs. Groceries are expensive these days so I am sure a basket of goodies would be appreciated by anyone. The best part is that it also disappears instead of having to be stored and put out.

Forget the gift cards. They limit where the person may shop. They also get lost before they are used. Give a gift of money — that way the person can use it however they like.

Be inventive this year and keep it simple!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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