Christmas is approaching and like many other people I am focused on getting my shopping done. Finding gifts for my nieces, nephews (I have no children) and friends is easy. But finding a gift for my husband, or for him to find a gift for me, is more difficult.
Like most baby boomers, I have few things I truly need. I have a home, all the furnishings I need, plenty of clothes, etc. I don’t need more things to decorate my home, or towels for the bathroom. But there is something I do need – meaningful connections.
My 24-year-old niece has been living with us for several months. I have enjoyed her presence in my life immensely. Over the past several weeks we spent time making decorations to adorn the exterior of our house for the holidays. We bonded over sharing the risk of climbing the ladder to string lights and our decorations on the house and trees. We even entered our neighborhood’s lighting contest and are excitedly waiting to find out how we fared.
The time together and our conversations have been wonderful. I’ve learned more about who she is, what she wants to do, her quirky wit, caring nature, and vast intelligence. Our time together is about to come to an end. She is moving to Boston in January to pursue her education, her goals, and her life. It’s a very bittersweet time.
I don’t know how much we will be in touch once she leaves. I know I would like to have regular communications, but her life will be a whirlwind and I am 37 years her senior. Her impending departure makes me recognize the changing nature of my relationships. I want to stay in touch but that may or may not happen.
Which brings me to the title of this post — The Greatest Gift. As we age, we recognize our relationships with friends and family are our greatest gift. We recognize that time spent together is sacred and precious. We also recognize that the landscape of our lives is changing and that our relationships, like us, are changing.
According to the December 11th article in the Wall Street Journal by Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg, baby boomers are the loneliest generation. This is primarily the result of three factors: boomers prized individuality, had fewer children and ended marriages in greater numbers than previous generations. As a result boomers are finding retirement more difficult than previous generations.
If you want to give a baby boomer the perfect gift this holiday season try the gift of connection through meaningful conversation, time spent together, a hand written note, and a shared meal. It may not seem like much, but your gift will be both appreciated and treasured.