The years which we spend immersed in college life, surrounded by deadlines and separated in spirit (and oftentimes in sheer distance) from normal members of the living world can appear an unexpected paradise in hindsight. I'm talking about the first year or so post-undergraduate commencement, when we reenter society with fake "yeah-I'm-doing-completely-O.K" and "I-know-what's-coming-next" expressions plastered to our faces. You know, the ones that act as virtual shields to our internal, occasional meltdowns whenever it dawns on us that work has to be done and regular bills must continue to be paid amidst said work. Oh yeah, and it's Christmastime too and it would probably be in good form to gift all the family members you love with at least a little something, as a functioning adult would.
For the most part, it's proving not terribly difficult from my personal perspective. Wait until the perfect financial time of the month. Find cost-effective and tasteful ways to appease those whom we appreciate. Collaborate with a sibling to get an actual quality gift for mom and dad. It will and can get done...eventually.
But there is one small demographic that I -- and I'm sure many, many more of us young people -- consistently struggle with and expect to struggle with forever more: the grandparents. Oh yes: the people whose homes are packed with literally everything they have ever wanted or really need. It seems almost superfluous to spend time contemplating which regular gift-y items grandma and grandpa might want, as I would with literally any other family member or friend on my list. "Here, grandpa, a book which I'm not really sure you would like very much to begin with, to quickly assume a place on your shelf surrounded by your 300 other books." "Grandma! Found this awesome little kitchen gadget-y thing because you don't already have 2.3 million of those already."
There are, of course, the generic gifts which anyone can appreciate and put to good use: the candles, the artisan-crafted soaps, etc. Actually, now that I think about it, my grandma is a definite artisan soap junkie and if I got her a couple of those and wrapped them all nicely in tissue paper and ribbon she would totally not be mad about it. Same goes for your grandmother, probably. But the point is, these types can in fact be enjoyed by anyone and these people are, you know, your grandparents. Chances are, they have played massively important parts in your lives in ways you could have never imagined -- and perhaps are not even aware of -- and they deserve something that will suggest you put some thought and care into the brainstorming process.
Lucky for you, I have been pondering this issue in the recent days leading us into this jovial and much-needed holiday season. Consider the following list a jumping-off point, and show the world that indeed, you are a functioning adult -- and a considerate one at that.
1. A movie or documentary that plays on their interests.
If there is one thing that grandparents are supremely good at, it is reminding us young folks about things that happened a very long time ago and the weight they had within our former cultural and societal spheres. Maybe grandpa really likes old black-and-white, vaudeville-style musicals. Maybe grandma had a thing for Carey Grant and won't admit it. No matter what sort of passion rests in their seasoned souls, there is a very high likelihood that that passion exists in some sort of cinematic setting that you could thoughtfully gift to them. The added bonus here if this: If your family holiday gatherings are anything like ours, several hours out of the day are spent sitting around doing absolutely nothing. With this sort of gift, you -- yes, you!! -- could be the A+ grandchild who has the wonderful idea of sitting down to watch that movie and reminisce about the way things were.
2. A personalized photo object/framed photo.
We all know that #tbt-related content is always acceptable to bring up, and the area of gifting your grandparents is 100% not exempt from this rule. Take a little time out of your day and sit your butt down at your local Walgreens photo department and explore the wonders that are personalized mugs, and mouse pads. And refrigerator magnets. And pillows. And Christmas tree ornaments. And candles. OK, so not all of these are available for order from Walgreens, but the possibilities are in fact endless on the internet. Sticking your face (and the unwitting faces of other family members) onto permanent household objects will undoubtedly bring a smile to gram and gramps's faces, and the item you choose will continue to serve as sentimental reminders for everyone to enjoy for many years to come. If you're hoping to remain (mostly) classy this holiday season, you are also entitled to present a framed photo or collage by channeling your inner D.I.Y. genius and achieving something artsy. Go mixed-medium on them! Throw some paint up on the background! They'll never see it coming.
3. Tickets to a concert or theater performance.
Depending on the level of quality you decide to go with, this may not necessarily be within your price range. (I know it isn't well within mine.) Luckily, this sort of save-the-date surprise is perfect as a joint gift from, say, you and some of the younger cousins who also couldn't afford anything nice. It is, in my opinion, a fact that the moments we are able to sit down and be entertained, whether musically or theatrically, are the moments of catharsis and pure happiness that life is supposed to supply us with. Most of us are just too busy to fit those things into our schedules, though, or perhaps just don't think to plan that far in ahead for our own personal benefit. Chances are, though, your grandparents have plenty of time for that sort of thing, and to offer them such an opportunity is to genuinely demonstrate that you're aware of their interests and show them that you care. For my fellow North Carolinians, look to events happening at Greensboro's Triad Stage, Chapel Hill's PlayMakers Repertory Co., and the various performing arts series happening in places like Chapel Hill, Boone, Wilmington and Durham. You might even stumble upon something that you'd like to attend as well. Boom. Family. Team. Building.
So there you have it: your starting point. (I apologize for the brevity; I never said it would be easy.) Anything extending past this set of ideas cannot be defined by a stranger like me, as they should rely on your personal relationship with your grandparents. Try thinking back to a conversation you had sometime in 2016 pertaining to an activity you meant to do together. Or find a small, symbolic object that will hearken back to a mutual interest you all once discussed.
And if you're stuck in the deepest, darkest corner of a hopeless and unimaginative rut, just take a deep breath and remember: You can always gift them an assortment of classy snacks from Southern Season.
And may all of your Christmassy dreams come true.