Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Gifts, visits and good intentions.

It's here again, that time of year when everyone thinks of family, friends past and present and whether anyone will visit or we will go to see someone perhaps unvisited for a long time.

As I've said before, Christmas is not a happy time for me, but I try not to let other people know how I feel, and just hope they won't ask me a straight question, face-to-face.

I can't look someone in the eye and lie, so avoiding the "what are you doing for Christmas"? question has become a well-honed skill.

Yesterday, I had a visit from a kindly, well-meaning fellow, an almoner from my late husband's lodge. (He was a freemason and a member of two lodges).  This man had come from the lodge with a gift of expensive chocolates and a pot-plant in a basket plus a lovely card for me.

When I protested that I "wished they wouldn't", while thanking him profusely for his kindness, he seemed at a loss to understand why.

It is difficult not to sound ungracious and I hope I managed, but, I really do wish they wouldn't.

I am not and never will be an admirer of freemasonry and find the avuncular attitude of its members to the 'widows' of their late members, patronising and squirm-making.

While I appreciate the kindness of the thought, I'd prefer it to stay just that, a thought.

Today, my middle brother (of three) came to see me.  The first time since John's funeral on 25th August 2009.  He had come to bring me a gift from his son and himself.  It is an Ipad 2.  Wonderful I can hear you say, and so it undoubtedly is.  Also extremely generous, but since neither he nor I were sufficiently clued up technically to get the thing up and running, it is at present residing in all its pristine glory in its box, where it will remain until I can find someone who can at least set it up for me so I can attempt to make use of it.

Years ago my mother who knew me better than anyone before or since, said "from now on every birthday and Christmas you will get a cheque, no-one could ever buy the right thing for you".

This is not really because I'm hard to please, I'm not, a spray of freesias from the local market would make my day, but I am not acquisitive or materialistic and don't need 'things'.

By the same token, my great nieces and nephews also get money with instructions to their parents to buy them some little thing they really want.

This is not laziness just that I hate waste, and so many Christmas gifts wind up being passed on to someone else that it is surely better to let the recipient choose.

As for visits, anyone who comes to my door empty-handed will be welcomed in for coffee and or a drink, but woe betide he or she who comes bearing gifts.

Signed  Ebenezer Scrooge,


  1. Ray, you and my DH would get on like a house on fire on this subject. He too loathes presents for the sake of presents. He prefers to research and choose things for himself if he needs them. Makes it hard for the children, but they're getting used to sending him Amazon tokens. :-) Last year our son gave him a weatherproof (and probably very expensive) jacket for Christmas and he's barely worn it, as it is too bulky for everyday use. sigh....

    As for me, I rather like getting small presents, but would prefer them not to be chocolates for the sake of my waistline. I will confess, though that I envy you your iPad 2 and wish someone would give me one. I hope you can get it set up soon.

  2. We dont give presents in our family except to children . It has lifted a great weight from all of us.
    My mother soon put a stop to visits from my Fathers Lodge. Thankfully its not a problem I shall have to deal with .
    And Im sure we will all benefit from your ipad skill.David Hockney is using one for his latest pictures of the East Riding. XX

  3. I am becomming more and more attuned to your attitude towards presents as the years go by. This year we are really biting the bullet and not buying anyone Christmas presents but twinning the toilet instead with all that has been going on this year our giving hasn't been up to scratch and we thought this might be a very good way of doing the 'shopping' for all those that don't NEED anything x.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only person who feels this way about presents Perpetua, but of course the Ipad will be mastered at some stage. (to a degree anyway).
    As for the chocolates, they will be recycled.

  5. Margaret, I wish I could find a way (gently, I've no wish to offend) to persuade the 'bretheren' to give me a miss.

    The Ipad will have to wait, but I'll get help at some stage I'm sure.

  6. It will soon grow on you Jane, particularly as you are starting early. By the time you reach my age you'll have perfected the art of neither giving nor receiving unwanted 'things'.

  7. I live very near my g'kids and know what they need at Christmas or don't mind that...but's time to give it a rest!

  8. Yes I can see that would make a difference, but since I have neither children or grandchildren and my nieces and nephews live quite some distance away, I never see them and have no idea of their tastes or likes and dislikes, so their children get cheques, they don't.

  9. Ray, I think you will love your iPad. I love mine (and I don't even have the 2 so I'm missing some of the most fun features). I use it for a radio, a movie player; I read books and blogs on it; and all sorts of things.

  10. I hope so Penny, but since I barely use my lap-top I fear this gadget may prove to be the same.
    What I really need is an in-house instructor.
    It reminds me of when my two eldest brothers took up fencing briefly in their teens. They bought all the (expensive) equipment, had very few lessons, and one of the foils wound up in the garden supporting a climbing shrub.

  11. My DH gave me an iPad2 back in May - just a gift, not birthday present and I bought a manual/book for it from Smiths. Really helped. I use it to take photos of my knitting and other indoor stuff. You need to link it up with your lap top, but it is so much lighter than a lap top, I took mine when I stayed with cousins in Wales, if I had travelled 1st class I would have had free wifi on the train. (We have senior rail cards so not as extravagant as it sounds).

    Also, I have 'borrowed' books from the public library to read on the iPad; there are good free apps to download concerning public transport, like the Underground.

    It can take time, help is available from your lap top in the form of Utube videos but I am sure the other members of your choir will be delighted to help, as well as being impressed by your new toy. Some public libraries have 'Silver surfer' sessions to help. In some cases the staff are just one step ahead of their students so they really understand.

    You will be able to see and speak with the nieces and nephews using Face Time, it comes with the 'camera' icon.

    Hope you enjoy your lovely gift, don't pass it on.

  12. ps I so agree with you about presents though. Would love to give all grown ups gift tokens from Tearfund so they can 'buy' gifts for others.

    We did this for cousins' Golden Wedding gifts, it was much appreciated.

  13. Hi Pixie

    Thanks for the fresh 'batch' of ideas. I'm sure some of them will be useful when I get to grips with the Ipad, but that is likely to be some time away.
    I certainly wouldn't pass it on since my brother and nephew have been good enough to give it to me, but I have no spare time at present, so it will have to wait patiently in its box for now.

  14. Pluck? Moi? Sorry you must have the wrong person Kathleen.