My grandparents always say to me how our lives are better now than when they were young, and that I should enjoy and cherish my life instead of complaining. Admittedly, in most senses, our lives are indeed much better than our grandparents’ when they were young.
Back in the day, gifts for grandparents definitely wouldn’t have been Plasma TVs or mobile phones. No siree. In the words of my Grandad, “in my day, we were lucky if we got a plate of baked beans on the table for dinner.”
When my grandparents got married, they moved into a cramped one-room – and I repeat – one room flat, with a divan mattress in the corner it, and no running water or electricity. They cooked using a single gas hob and could hardly afford to feed themselves. And when their son was born, times got so tough that they often had to eat blackberries for dinner!
In my grandparents’ era, you were lucky if you had a sink in your abode. Many folks collected water from either private wells or from public pumps. Washing machines and dishwashers would’ve, undoubtedly, come in extremely useful and made incredibly handy Birthday gifts for Grandmothers, or Birthday gifts for Grandad, so they would’ve spent more time resting and less time washing the dishes and clothes themselves!
As for debit and credit cards, my grandparents didn’t use ATM cards until they were in their 60’s – imagine that! Instead, they always went inside the bank and did business eye-to-eye with the bank clerk, who even knew them by name.
My grandparents often joke that they don’t know why people refer to those times as “the good ol’ days,” because there wasn’t much good about them. Grandad told me a story about a young lad who actually killed himself for lack of food and money.
Of course, I treasure these stories and the time I spend with my grandparents. When I find myself drooling over a new gadget, I think back to the stories of my Gran ransacking the cupboards for a missing “twopence” piece, which would’ve paid for a can of soup for her son’s dinner. It puts life into perspective.
People managed to get by without today’s mod-cons. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a criticism of today’s modern conveniences, because frankly, many of them make life much more enjoyable. On the other hand, perhaps we should be reminded that the majority of these are luxuries, not necessities, even though media and peer pressure would have us believe otherwise.
These days, we can spend more time and money on our hobbies, which was unheard of in our grandparents’ time. My Grandad would’ve given anything to immerse himself in his favourite book, but he just couldn’t afford it, they were that strapped for cash.
When I was walking with my Gran down the local high street, we passed a tanning bed salon and spied a girl, her skin glowing a shade of orangey-red, strut out of the salon. Gran whispered to me: “Why pay the earth to cook your skin when the good Lord shines a sun over your head that does the same for free?” That did make me laugh.
I can safely say kindles, GPS devices, Xboxes, Wiis, and so on, certainly won’t be on my gifts for grandfather or Birthday Gifts for Grandma shopping list. I believe there’s definitely something to be said for personalised gifts for grandparents.
Very recently, I gave a personalised football book to my Grandad for his 80thbirthday. The front cover displayed his name in gold, and there was a personal message on the inside cover. This particular book contained newspaper reports on the history of Sunderland football team over the last century.
On visiting him a week later, Grandad was already half way through it. Not being much of a football lover myself, I couldn’t really share in my Grandad’s excitement as he went off at a tangent about all the things he’d read, like the famous League and Cup wins, the stars – past and present, etc. etc. etc. But what did excite me was when he said this was one of the best presents he’d received, ever. That made me so happy.