It’s coming. Everyone will be sitting there at the Thanksgiving table trying to decide between having seconds of the candied yams or the green bean casserole (they’ll have both), when your dear grandma, the one who brought her famous ambrosia salad, will turn to you and say, “So Jimmy, what do you want for Christmas?”
Now Jimmy, if you are in elementary school, feel free to burst forth exuberantly with your heart’s desire. Barbie doll, Hot Wheels, Coddle-Me-Elmo – Grandma will do her best to get it for you. That’s what grandmas do.
Teens and tweens, Grandma loves you, too, which is why I’m going to suggest that you take a moment to consider your response. Now, you know exactly what you want. How could you help it? The very air we breathe right now is filled with gifting possibilities, and you’ve done a lot of sorting and sifting before arriving at your final picks. I’m just asking that you pick the right one to tell Grandma.
Here’s why: Last year, I was sitting in a waiting room with a grandmother who was doing some desperate searching on her laptop as she waited to see the doctor. She turned to the person next to her and said, “My grandson says he wants a Death Warp Rasta Poncho in black and silver but I can’t find it.”
Please don’t do that to poor Grandma. Don’t ask her for something that will be hard for her to find. Yes, if Grandma is computer-savvy you could send her a link, but even then, there could be problems. Do you want to be the reason your grandma gets daily emails from Lulu’s Lingerie? Do you want her to get gamer updates on the release of “Slashers III: Born to Burn” complete with examples of its lifelike gory graphics? Bad enough that when she orders the “Slashers II” you requested she might mistakenly just type in “Slashers” and wind up in some dark internet alley where no grandma should ever go. Not only will it be embarrassing, but poor Grandma may feel compelled to make an emergency call to her pastor because she’s worried about your future.
Now, I’m big on freedom of speech and all that, but for heaven sakes, run your list through the grandma filter before you speak. Books? Yes. “50 Shades of Grey?” No. CD’s? Sure, just nothing with an explicit language warning on the label.
And don’t just say “a shirt” because, no matter how old you are, you will always be Grandma’s Little Dumpling, her Moon Pie, her Precious Butter Bean. Remember the pink fuzzy bunny costume in “A Christmas Story”? Enough said.
I know, right now you’re thinking, “Fine, I’ll just say a gift card” and that’s OK, but remember what the great columnist Miss Manners used to say: “It’s supposed to be a gift, not a shakedown.”
Sometimes our seasonal gifts become nothing more than in-kind social obligations. Give a gift, get a gift, check. You and Grandma are closer than that.
It’s a tough situation, my friend, so how about this: “Oh, Grandma, you always pick out something wonderful. What do you want for Christmas?” She’ll say, “Nothing,” but she’ll be very pleased that you asked and you will have kicked off the Christmas season with a kind and generous heart.
Just for the record, I’m betting that you’ll get a gift card and you can go buy the Death Warp poncho yourself. But no matter what Grandma gives you, send a thank you note, a paper one with an envelope and a stamp and everything. Grandmas love that.