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Okay, I can't believe I've gotten myself into this pickle but...I have. Here it is, less than a week before Christmas and I don't have a gift for my mom. Help! I need some creative ideas.

Just a little info: she's 82 years young. For a woman her age, she's really in pretty good shape, still able to drive, etc. The biggest problem is my dad who has a fair number of health problems. He is still living at home because of her. She does all the stuff around the house (he can't pay the bills or anything), all the cooking, grocery shopping and chaffeurs him to his myriad doctor appointments. They have the "comfort keepers" who come in when dad needs someone to stay with him. Dad also has a visiting nurse one day/wk.

They live about 20 minutes away and between my husband and I, one of us is over there at least 3 times a week. My husband is very willing to help out with whatever sort of handyman stuff that needs to be done. On Monday, he took my mom to a doctor appt.

We share reading materials: my husband gives Mom the Wall Street Journal when he is done with it; she gives us the New Yorker. I pass on books (not so many of those lately).

We are all feeling the money pinch and mom is saying she wants Christmas giving to be "low key." I got my dad a book (Six Frigates, the Story of the Founding of the US Navy). Mom doesn't really need any more books, DVDs, or jewelry. We went through a period when no matter what I gave her, it was a dud, and I ended up returning everything I bought. Maybe that's the reason I haven't gotten anything this year...I am feeling a little gun-shy!

She really doesn't need any "stuff." I'd like to get something that would really be helpful in her day-to-day routine, but I'm not sure what.

Thoughts?

PS...a few years ago, for mother's day, my sister and I found a personal chef who was supposed to come in and cook one meal a week for three months. She made us cancel him because she didn't want a stranger in her kitchen.

Help!

L
 

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1.  Does she have a favorite charity or cause?  Make a donation in her name.

2.  Is there a day spa around?  Give her a day of pampering. . .let her her hair and nails done on you.

3.  Are there old family photos hanging around?  Find a bunch and make a nice collage in a large frame. 

4.  Does she have a recipe book or card file you can hardly read?  Type 'em up and make "Mom's cookbook".  Also good for the rest of the family!

5.  Arrange to sit with her and have her tell her life stories. . .record or transcribe them into a book for the family.


Ann
 

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Leslie,

I can't imagine she needs any more of a gift than the wonderful daughter you are!!  

It seems like you spend a lot of time over there, but perhaps you could give her time with you on a specific project that she has been putting off?  Cleaning out the basement/attic, organizing those old photos or files,  a de-clutter fest?  Something along those lines.  Nothing much more than what you are already doing, just putting a specific focus/project on your time together.

Theresa
 

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Ann beat me to it! I was also going to suggest a day of pampering. Or a year's subscription to another favorite magazine. Or give her an I.O.U. to have a family portrait taken by a professional photographer--the whole bunch of you (grandparents, parents, grandkids). Or gift certificates for her favorite restaurant for nights she doesn't want to cook dinner.
 

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Take your whole family to a local studio and have a family portrait done?  These days they can give it to you framed to take with you, so you have plenty of time for that.

Or the gift of time that Mom of 4 suggested is nice, each of you could give your mom a gift certificate for some time, she would appreciate that!

Betsy
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good ideas, keep them coming...but just a few comments:

1. Photo - no go. My mother hates having her picture taken. My husband takes lots of pictures on a regular basis and shares them with her. In fact, we bought the first generation CEIVA and that was a pretty good gift for awhile, until they moved closer to us  and the grandkids grew up. It broke a year ago and we didn't bother replacing it, since she seemed to have lost interest in it.

2. Spa - been there. According to her, she has no hair, so she doesn't want to go to the hair dresser. No so long ago, I gave her a few gift certificate for a manicure/pedicures and after a year, she passed them on to my daughter.

3. Gift cards for restaurants - not good, because my dad can't go out. My husband and I take her out for lunch probably 2 Saturdays/mo. We usually pay and she leaves the tip.

4. She actually wrote a book of stories (and my father did too, with her help) back with the children were born (they are 17 and 20 now). They were "fill in" books called Grandmother Remembers and Grandfather Remembers and she did a beautiful job with them. I don't think I'll get her to sit down and do it again.

5. She does have my grandmother's old recipe book, plus other recipes, but I'm not sure she really wants to organize them. That's a thought, though.

The biggest issue for my husband and I is supporting her so she can she can stay independent and thus my father can stay home. He couldn't last 24 hours without her (or someone). And I truly believe that if he ended up in a nursing home of some sort, he'd die within weeks. So I am trying to figure out what we could do that would help in that way...

L
 

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Leslie said:
3. Gift cards for restaurants - not good, because my dad can't go out. My husband and I take her out for lunch probably 2 Saturdays/mo. We usually pay and she leaves the tip.
What about a certificate/coupon for a takeout meal (or 1/month or something), ie. you will get a meal "to-go" from a restaurant and bring it to their house? That way they can still have the treat of not having to cook without leaving the house.
 

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What I've done for years for my father is make him a vat of homemade soup, or meatballs & sauce or something, and freeze it up into dinner-sized portions. He doesn't like the amount of salt that comes with canned soups etc. so this way he gets it just the way he likes it, and he knows I made it, and it gets used up so that you can do the same thing for the next holiday and the idea never gets old...  my mother also loves it because she doesn't have to cook it!

With all the stress that someone goes through caring for another person 24/7, having to some up with balanced meals 3 times a day everyday is sometimes last on the list.  

Even if you are not big on cooking, or won't have the time before Christmas, you could buy an already cooked ham or a couple of those roaster chickens you get in  the supermarket, divide it all up, add in some mashed potatoes and frozen veggies, and you are good to go.

another idea is one of those electronic picture frames - if you are anything like us, you have a gazilion photos on your computer that will never see the light of day on photo paper - you can dump them all to the picture frame ahead of time, so your parents can just plug&play.  

good luck!

 

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This may sound dumb but what if you and your sister  (and daughter(s) have a sleep over with your mother at her home or stay at a hotel if you have some one to stay with your father. Just one night and video tape it .

I wish I did that with mother and sister I lost them both within 4 months of each other.

 

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My Mom is difficult, too, and at 86, she doesn't need much.  She never likes anything I get her either.  The only thing she wants this year is a ladder ... like any of us are going to get her that.  So, I got her a gift card for her favorite store ... WalMart.  I got her the same thing last year, and she spent it on food.  Nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned.

A food basket would be nicer than a gift card for WalMart.  A friend loved chicken marsala, so I got her a bottle of the wine, jars of mushrooms, and a grocery store gift certificate for the chicken.  If she likes something in particular like that, you can make a nice basket of ingredients.

 

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gertiekindle said:
My Mom is difficult, too, and at 86, she doesn't need much. She never likes anything I get her either. The only thing she wants this year is a ladder ... like any of us are going to get her that.
Gertie, Why does your 86 year young Mom want a Ladder?
 

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Leslie, does your mom have any far-flung or out of touch relatives or friends? People whom are referenced by "Gee, whatever happened to So-and-So? Between now and Dec. 23d, try and contact them to encourage that they give your mom a call for Christmas.

Of course, you can omit Cousin Johnny who stole the brooch back in '89 to buy new rims for his truck.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Teninx said:
Leslie, does your mom have any far-flung or out of touch relatives or friends? People whom are referenced by "Gee, whatever happened to So-and-So? Between now and Dec. 23d, try and contact them to encourage that they give your mom a call for Christmas.

Of course, you can omit Cousin Johnny who stole the brooch back in '89 to buy new rims for his truck.
Actually, I just talked to Mom and she told me she is doing Christmas cards on an "as received" basis...ie, "When I get a card, I address one and send it out, since I don't know who is dead or alive." Ai yi yi.

As for relatives, we have a very small family and the last of their generation, my uncle, died in March.

L
 

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Discussion Starter #14
cat616 said:
Gertie, Why does your 86 year young Mom want a Ladder?
If my mother told me she wanted a ladder, I'd probably buy her one!

I actually just talked to her and very sneakily finagled the name and phone number of her cleaning lady out of her. She is planning on cancelling the cleaning lady after the end of the year (says she can't afford it). So, if I can convince my sister to go halfsies with me, I might just pay for cleaning services for all of 2009.

The cleaning lady is truly a cleaning lady (not a business like Merry Maids). I am sure she needs the work, too.

But don't stop with the ideas. This is great, everyone.

L
 

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cat616 said:
Gertie, Why does your 86 year young Mom want a Ladder?
She's very short, 4'11" and can't reach a lot of things. And you're right. She is definitely a lot younger than I am. I can't keep up.

Leslie said:
If my mother told me she wanted a ladder, I'd probably buy her one!
I can see you're desperate. It is easier when they ask you for something, isn't it.

Maybe your Mom doesn't fall as often as mine does. She a very fast walker, but never watches where she is going. She fell in the library last week after tripping over her own feet. Nose bleed and banged up her face pretty good. ER, CT scan, x-rays ... all clear.

I definitely can't trust her with a ladder. She'll run up and then be too impatient to climb down carefully.
 

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Since she still drives give her the gift of a couple of oil changes and the transportation while she gets it done and perhaps a tune up.  Car upkeep is expensive and they like to be independent.  

Have you thought of buying her a really nice set of fluffy towels.  I know my parent the long er they went had more and more left over for towels.  

Offer to sit down with her and do a family tree, your kids may need it one day and once a generation goes you never get the information again, plus she may enjoy telling you about crazy great aunt  Susie who drank a little too much.


Prepay the cable TV bill for a year or have them send it to you each mont and then you pay it, both your parents would like that.

My mother was a caretaker for my Dad for 15 years.  Hats off ot your Mom.
 

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Leslie said:
If my mother told me she wanted a ladder, I'd probably buy her one!

I actually just talked to her and very sneakily finagled the name and phone number of her cleaning lady out of her. She is planning on cancelling the cleaning lady after the end of the year (says she can't afford it). So, if I can convince my sister to go halfsies with me, I might just pay for cleaning services for all of 2009.

The cleaning lady is truly a cleaning lady (not a business like Merry Maids). I am sure she needs the work, too.

But don't stop with the ideas. This is great, everyone.

L
I was going to suggest a cleaning lady but after what you said about the cook, I didn't think Mom would go for it. I think that's a great idea. I had to bludgeon my mother with guilt to get her to let us hire someone to house clean, telling her that we would be able to do more fun stuff together if I didn't have to spend time cleaning her house when I came over.

The car upkeep idea is good, too.

Betsy
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Gables Girl said:
Since she still drives give her the gift of a couple of oil changes and the transportation while she gets it done and perhaps a tune up. Car upkeep is expensive and they like to be independent.
That's a good idea. Thank you...I may follow up on that one.

Have you thought of buying her a really nice set of fluffy towels. I know my parent the long er they went had more and more left over for towels.
My mother is addicted to buying new linens...towels, sheets, whatever. This won't go.
Offer to sit down with her and do a family tree, your kids may need it one day and once a generation goes you never get the information again, plus she may enjoy telling you about crazy great aunt Susie who drank a little too much.
We have a fairly good genealogy and my father is the one with all the info. I have been trying to document more in recent years because you are right, once they are gone, it is gone.

Prepay the cable TV bill for a year or have them send it to you each mont and then you pay it, both your parents would like that.
That would be about the same price as the cleaning lady (maybe a little less). They haven't said anything about cancelling the cable so it seems the cleaning lady is more of an imperative, budget wise.

My mother was a caretaker for my Dad for 15 years. Hats off ot your Mom.
Thank you. She is doing a tremendous job.

L
 

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Re: food...we do a fair amount of bringing food to them. Cook up a big pot of spaghetti sauce and bring some over. Same with soup, stew, whatever. I'd say at least once a week my husband delivers something.

There is a store next to Staples called "A Taste of Thyme" or "Make it Thyme" or something, which I think is one of those "go and get dinner all ready" places. I thought of looking into it but I am not sure it would fit the bill for mom. She does have spices and food and so on. This strikes me as more for young people or singles who don't have pantries yet. Thoughts?

L
 

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Christmas for the older generation is really tough. My older relatives still send a lot of snail mail.

Last year, for my father-in-law, I took pictures from their favorite vacations, scanned them in, and printed them onto greeting cards. I left the inside blank, but put the place and approximate date on the back in small print. I included a book of stamps and told him to please use them and I would replenish as necessary.

I also put together a packet of cards for my mom a few years ago. I got various ones and included all the family details of birthdays/anniversaries/etc in the packet.

I like the car maintenance idea too; car problems and repairs suck and stress you out.

Beth
 
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