Dear Grandparenting: Here’s a little story of two maternal grandparents from different sides of the family, with very different amounts of cash on hand come Christmas time, or any time for that matter.
One grandparent is getting by. That would be me. The other grandparent looks to have huge amounts of money.
When I came by last year to drop off my grandchildren’s presents, her gifts were already stacked around the Christmas tree. Each grandchild had a separate pile. When I say stacked, I mean plenty and everything was gift wrapped with colored ribbons and bows. It looked like something out of a gift catalogue.
She is probably a nice enough lady. We met twice at my daughter’s place. She lives in New York. Since she rarely sees her grandchildren she tries to buy them. That’s what I really think in my heart. I see my grandchildren all the time and give them what I can. I give them my love and my time but come up short with Christmas goodies. That’s my problem. How do I compete? Sad Santa, San Diego, California
Dear Sad: Some grandparents could use reminding that the best presents often have nothing to do with money. Spoiling grandchildren is a time-tested grandparental prerogative, which we gather your New York counterpart has down pat, but the most meaningful gifts hit a sweet spot that money cannot touch, much less buy.
It’s often said that grandchildren worship the material world. But once true material need is satisfied, ensuing expensive gifts begin to lose their impact. What endures is the human touch and the personal connection — gifts of love and attention that you provide.
There’s a big problem with a relationship based on material giving. A decrease in the value of the gift signals a decline in the relationship, so your wealthy counterpart is trapped in a situation where she has to ante up more every holiday, with little to show for it. Seems to us it’s much more likely that she is the one competing with you.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Seema Rizzo, of Staunton, Pennsylvania, weighed in with this observation:
“That old expression, ‘the handwriting is on the wall,’ reminds me of the time my grandkids brought over their crayons when they came to visit.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.