Outside of maybe a new shirt, a book by a favorite author or a bottle of a preferred adult beverage, there aren’t many material things that I or many people my age really need or want.
Collecting more stuff in your 50s and 60s is really pretty pointless.
My wife Mary and I have been diligent in recent years about clearing out the storage areas and closets in our home. Our goal — beyond the obvious of downsizing what we have accumulated — is to get useful items into the hands of people who can use them and to recycle or toss the things not good or useful enough to give away.
As I’ve written in this space before, people with grown kids need to accept that fact that, with rare exceptions, their kids are not going to want their stuff. We do them a big favor by going through the many things we no longer want or need and dispensing with them before we’re too old to do so.
Having little or no appetite for traditional gifts can, I’ll admit, make it tough on those who might want to give you something at Christmas, your birthday, etc.
That’s why we love the fact that our adult sons and daughters have embraced the idea of giving planned, shared time together or experiences as presents.
If your family is anything like mine, you often need to plan way ahead to get moments for making memories on the calendar.
Mary’s birthday is in May, yet I remember starting to lay the groundwork for what we’d do to celebrate last Christmas.
If you work at it, you can make it happen.
Last Saturday and Sunday, as a long-planned Father’s Day and birthday gift, our son Dan and his wife Maggie treated us to tickets to the 1969 World Champion New York Mets 50th anniversary celebration at Citi Field. I’d mentioned to my son last winter that I would like to go to that. The ’69 Mets (and Jets) were the teams of my youth. I loved the chance to see those surviving world champs one more time.
For Father’s Day and my birthday last month, daughter Katie brought our two granddaughters to meet us at a Poconos-area park and adjacent winery that had plenty of outdoor room for them to run around. I got to play with them — they got really excited when they noticed a small snake swimming in the small lake on the property — and the grownups got to enjoy a taste of some good Pennsylvania wines.
I wouldn’t trade those family times for anything that could be wrapped up with a bow.
Daughter Megan has a weekend planned for us in August in the Washington, D.C., area. And just this past week, we drove to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit our son David and his wife Sarah and our two six-month-old twin grandsons to celebrate both Dave’s 36th and the twins’ six-month birthdays.
Experiences and/or quality planned time to spend with family members can’t be beat. There’s no better gift.
Plus, when they come to your house, you might even be able to get them to take some of their old stuff home with them — or at least give you the OK to get rid of it.
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