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Old 04-02-2006, 01:07 PM   #1
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Default OT - Gift Ideas For The Man Who Has Everything

Hi all - I need some help!

My dad is 80 on May 21st, and I'm stuck for pressie ideas. Even when he was younger he never was particularly materialistic, and now he's knocking on a bit there's nothing he particularly wants or needs.

I want to buy him a gift that shows I love him, but I haven't a clue what to get him. Price is not an issue - I don't mind how much or little the gift costs - if it conveys the right sentiment.

I thought of a simple gift like a framed photo of me and my sisters, or me and all my siblings, which would include my only brother who committed suicide two years ago, but a) I've done that a couple of times before for other birthdays so I'd be repeating myself, and b) my parent's home is like a shrine to my sister Jinty (their favourite), with half a dozen photos of her and none of me or my other siblings, so I'm not sure he'd appreciate a photo with all of us on it.

Then I thought of an ethical gift, like adopting a child in his name, or buying a goat or well-digging equipment for a poor african family etc., but to be totally honest, my dad isn't an especially charitable man, who doesn't donate to charities himself, so he's not likely to find that sort of gift particularly meaningful.

Then I thought of naming a star for him, but that just seemed like a present for an egotist, and my dad's not that either.

To help me, you'll need to know what sort of man my dad is. He's a loving father and grandfather, a retired very hardworking blue-collar worker, loyal Daily Mirror reader, conservative (with small c), lifelong Labour party supporter, teetotaler, ex-wartime soldier (I've heard the stories to death...), staunch union man, not into any sort of sport (so no golf, angling or football gift ideas are appropriate), he doesn't read, he's not much into music or film, and he's diabetic and ungreedy so food gifts are a no-no...

He's not especially adventurous so there's no point in buying him a ride in a hot air balloon or anything like that...

He's sentimental though (he loves the slushy Hallmark cards that make my mum want to hurl)...knowing this, I wrote a poem for his 70th birthday and had it framed, and he cried, then hung it on the lounge wall...but now it's been relegated to the spare room (where it STILL makes me cringe - it should have been relegated to the dustbin the day after his birthday! It's a DIRE poem...) and I'm not in a rush to repeat the same mistake and write another piece of crap which will be kept to remind me forever afterwards that I can't write poetry for toffee...

So...in a nutshell he's impossible to buy for!

The only idea I can come up with relates to the fact that about 5 years ago he started having computer lessons because he decided he wanted to write his memoirs so that me and my siblings would have something to remember him by after he's popped his clogs. He was hopeless at his lessons and couldn't grasp hardly how to switch the computer on, let along write a book on it, so eventually he lost interest, sold the computer, and that's the last we heard of the matter. But I did wonder whether he'd appreciate a mini-dictaphone or voice recorder for his birthday, so that he could make audio recordings of his memoirs.

It struck me that he'd probably get pleasure from recording him and my mum (they LOVE talking about the 'old days', and he has a phenomenal memory for detail), and as an added bonus me and my sisters would have a priceless gift when mum and dad eventually pass away.

But I'm not sure if this is a case of me thinking it would be a good idea for him, rather than him thinking that for himself. If he were that bothered about compiling a keepsake for me and my sisters, wouldn't he have done it already? And of course half his pleasure in telling stories of the old days is derived from the fact that he's telling them to a real and interactive audience - will he get the same pleasure from simply talking into a dictaphone, or will he feel silly and inhibited?And if so, would the dictafone just be shoved in a drawer, like all the other gadgets he's bought but never used over the years?

Oh, and Kim thinks the dictaphone idea is a stupid idea - he thinks dad would never use it...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I'm DESPERATE! Does anyone have any suggestions? If anyone can come up with ANYTHING I'll be really grateful! His birthday is only 7 weeks away...

Janey
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:20 PM   #2
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Is he an animal lover? You could sponsor him a monkey or something like that.

How about if hes really serious about memoirs making it a two part deal if he records the audio you promise to type it up for him
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:30 PM   #3
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Is he musical? If he is then perhaps an organ and some of those 'teach yourself' books.

If he wanted to do his memoirs and couldn't manage a computer then how about a typewriter.

How about having a professional photographer take some pictures of him and your Mum.

Ummmmmm...... How about a day or weekend away trip to somewhere related to when he was young? Perhaps where he was stationed during the war or where he was brought up.

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:32 PM   #4
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I knit everyone socks. They love it, but I don't suppose everyone's family and friends are as easily amused as mine.
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:40 PM   #5
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Just thought of another one - one of DH's brothers had MIL's old home movies and slides (remember slides) all transferred on to video and then later on to DVD.

If he's very interested in the War then how about a trip to London and visit the Imperial War Museum?
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:56 PM   #6
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Default Story of a Lifetime

Redenvelope.com sells a book called "Story of a Lifetime" that gives prompts and blank spaces to fill in. It's a beautiful gift that I've given to my grandmother and grandmother-in-law. Both *loved* it. The link is too long to post, but do a search on their website - it's worth it, I think

Here's the description:
"Our loved ones make their footprints in the shifting sands of time," says author Pamela Pavuk. This beautiful memoir is an attempt to capture those footprints—not just for the person telling and recording the story but also for their family and for generations to come. The leather, heavy-bound book with gilded edges chronicles a person's life by asking questions, from "What do you feel has been your purpose in life?" to "Is there any particular incident in your life that changed everything?" From the simple to the provocative, it asks almost 500 questions about careers, college, leaving home, parental relationships, raising kids, traditions and milestones. A great tool for self-discovery and reflection, the memoir is appropriate for all who want to learn more about themselves and to pass along their discoveries to the next generation."
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Old 04-02-2006, 02:02 PM   #7
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My dad just turned 80, is an ex soldier and a diabetic. Only he's an alcoholic, and a Tory through and through!

What about the dicataphone and a promise to spend a couple of hours a month interviewing him on it for his memoirs? Then he'll have to use it! Perhaps he doesn't know where to start with his memoirs. Or that he might feel he has nothing much to say to anyone outside his family.

You could set up a website for him with his memoirs on it. Col set up one in memory of my grandmother, but it's a bit cringeworthy so only my family have seen it. A bit like your poem consigned to the back room!

Or what about a memory album? Put together some of the photos you treasure and write some of your own memories of your dad and attach them to the pages, or little scraps of things that are associated with the photos. I love doing that and they're always appreciated.

Good luck. My dad always gets a bottle of whisky, and then I feel guilty because of his alcohol issues. Sigh.
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:39 AM   #8
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How about a night out? I took my Auntie to see Derek Acorah (most haunted bloke) wasn't really my kinda thing but we went for a meal first and had a really nice night, I think it was having some one on one quality time away from the rest of the family that we both enjoyed.
Along the same lines as the Dictaphone what about a video camera?
If you do go for recording equipment, a tape recorder is better for the purpose than a dictaphone, I used to do reminiscence work with old folk years ago, dictaphone tapes were never long enough!!
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:23 PM   #9
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With the recording equipment theme Argos have this which has a built in microphone and you can download it to your PC and then onto CD/DVD. Not a bad price for 40gb either, my bf has one and it is a bit bulky but otherwise works well.
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:31 PM   #10
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My Grandpa is the same way -- has everything and if he doesn't he goes out & gets it! This never fails: we make family collages every year and give that to him. I actually found a recordable frame (where you hit the button, record your message) so he can play our message over & over again (when we go over, we sneak it and change the message on it) He LOVES it
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:24 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for these suggestions - I really appreciate them and there are some really good ideas here. I like the idea of showing my dad that I love him and am interested in his life by asking him to record something of himself (either in writing, audio or video), but I think he'd also appreciate some sort of photo scrapbook or collage of his family, or a day-trip down memory lane or something like that (at the start of the war he was evacuated from Brum to Wales and has never been back though he loved it there, so that could be an idea).

Keep the ideas coming, folks. I have 7 weeks to decide what to do...

Many thanks,

Janey
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Old 04-03-2006, 03:34 PM   #12
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I think what most folk that age want is your time.....but I think the framed pic of all of the children together may mean more than you think.

JMHO
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