Merman advice November - December 2009
Ask the Merman: Holiday Edition
A philosophical answer to that age old question:
What to buy for the Mer-person who has everything?
The trouble I have in providing input is that I AM a Merman and my typical response to the question from my Mermaid and my little mer-people, "What do you want for Christmas?" is the patented, "nothing."
The best way, however, if we must, to approach this is by Mer-person age category. Let's assume that for purposes of this advice that the majority of the Mer-folks we are talking about fall into one of the following 3 age categories. Mer-Xers (born between 1964 and 1981), Mer-Boomers (born between 1943 and 1963) and Mer-Traditionals (born before 1943).
Mer - Xers
The Gen X has proven a mystery to marketers for all the years they have been studied. The experts try to determine just what it is that the Merman X really wants. They have little in common, have a wide variety of likes and dislikes and each seems as different as night and day. Fortunately this Merman, has engaged in actual certified research with respect to the commonalities among the Gen Xers. After hours of determining that they have no common thread, that they are experiencing all kinds of different things we in fact determined that their commonality was just that….experience life. You name it they want to experience it and it doesn't matter much what it is.
This generation, until just recently, has had a fairly easy time of it, thanks to a strong and growing economy they have been able to go with the flow, find and leave jobs on a whim and make it just fine without too much concern for their future. Hurray for them.
So - if your significant other fits into this age category give them the gift of 'experience'. You might even do a little research before hand because the questions you ask won't give away that you are actually finding out information for holiday gifting. Some warm cozy evening, ask your Merman or Mermaid for that matter, "What are some of the experiences that you would like to be sure to have before you get too old?" Make a mental note of the top 3 to 5 answers and pick one that is within your price range to make happen. This experience may or may not include you, but the important thing is that you will enable him or her to have it. You can even, if you want to get really creative, find a few items that he or she would need to fully enjoy the experience. For example, if sky diving is the experience, give them a pair of goggles and a helmet along with the certificate to the sky diving school. If scuba diving is it, and you can't afford to send them to an island, give them a nice mask and snorkel and a certificate for a discount to an area scuba shop.
Do your merperson a favor, give them an experience that THEY want 100% and not something that is half way theirs and half way yours. If it just so happens that you do want to jump out of an airplane too, then fine but remember the secret to giving is to give unselfishly.
A little tip on the follow up side. Once they have the experience set up a time to sit with them and listen - yes listen - to them describe the whole thing. It will solidify in their mind your unselfish dedication and interest in them and their well-being.
Mer - Boomers
Many of you will have significant other in this aging category of boomers. Most of the boomers have more stuff than they want to have now and are looking to shed some of the pounds of things that they have received as gifts or bought for themselves over the last 30 years. For the boomer in mind, think consumables. Practical and functional gifts that can be a treat. If you have little merpeople these gifts should be extremely boring to them.
Consumables only take up space for as long as it takes for them to be used and they can be a gift that keeps on giving, while supplies last! So, for example, if he just loves an exceptional cup of coffee give him a pound of a really expensive blend that he wouldn't buy for himself. If she just loves flowers, give her a bouquet a week for the next couple of months. Or maybe a special type of liquor. Even a supply of his favorite sausage can be a special treat! There are all kinds of consumables that people love and for some reason, they don't buy themselves.
Also, think outside of the food box and in terms of things that you use and wear out. Socks - nothing like several pairs of new, cushy socks! And while you are at it throw out the socks that he is still wearing even though there is a hole in the heel, but heck who will see that!
For her, cozy jammies. Those flannels do wear out eventually so replace them with a cozy new set. I also think that the gift of music fits into the consumable area. Once again, it does not have to be a cd you are crazy about, but one that they want to hear.
Mer-Traditionals (the older generation)
Not that all of the oldsters are too old to do anything physical so we will separate this into active and less active folks. The one common thing that all traditionals crave and need is your time. We get so busy in our Gen X and Boomer lives that we just don't seem to have the time to go visit grandma in the assisted living center. Yes, it does take planning but if you want to make your day, make theirs. Let them know when you get there that you are only there to say hi and give them a quick up update on the kids, or something like that. The more frequent you visit, the shorter and more fun the visits can be and the less burdensome the visits will be on you and your schedule. Give them a call and just 'swing by'. You will be the highlight of their day - imagine that! I wouldn't necessarily recommend a regularly scheduled weekly visit. That becomes a burden for you and an expectation for them. Eventually you won't be able to make it and they will be disappointed and you will feel guilty. Not fun. Keep it light, quick, energetic and it will be meaningful.
For the active set of Traditionals consider getting them something that will enable their exploration of something new, for example a series of yoga cds. Yoga is great for the body, mind and spirit and more and more geriatrics are turning to it because it is gentle on the body and works well for all levels of fitness. Another possibility is art. Many have always wondered what it would be like to paint or work in charcoal or something like that. Get them everything that they would need and schedule time with them to help get them started.
For the less active folks consider a series of cds that they can watch. Maybe a favorite movie category, like Mickey Rooney movies, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe or Bogart, etc. Someone famous that was hot back when they were. There are also lots of TV series on cd now, many of which provide a monthly delivery of a new cd. This gives them something to look forward to and you could even plan on watching it with them when it comes in. These are things that they can watch and that their friends may want to watch as well. They are also great for 'remember when' conversation starters.
Remember too, if they don't' have one; get them the CD player that they need and hook it up to their TV for them! These are now available for under $40.00 and very easy to use. Many of the Traditionals are not interested in technology and yes, to them, hooking up a cd contraption IS technology even though it seems simple to you. The right selection of movie genre can improve spirits and bring back some memories of wonderful times as well as give them something to talk about with you.
Once again, the common theme here is time. How wonderful that as we get older, the one thing that starts to run out on all of us is time and it becomes the one thing we want to share most with everyone! Let them give you their time as you give them some of yours. You will never regret it or care to return this gift. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Happy Holidays from the Merman!