All excited, I opened up my gift. A bottle of concentrated, unsweetened cranberry juice? Hum, not what I expected. Not like I expected something in particular, but, it wasn’t exactly … Christmassy. It was a gift from my significant other, one that had been given considerable thought.
A day later, we talked about it. More stuff isn’t what I needed, and she was right. Besides, I am one of those guys who has everything he needs. This was a gift of health. Cranberry juice would be good for me – it was actually something my doc recommended. Her other gifts were similar: the gift of a massage, a salsa date and a weekend getaway.
Looking back, I have to say that it was one of the better Christmases. The gifts weren’t stuff, they were experiences; they were caring and loving. I felt more loved than if I had received a bunch of stuff.
Holidays are here and it’s not uncommon for the whole thing to become a bit obsessive/compulsive. In all the activity, we loose connection to the reason why we do it. As an advocate for universal design, I suggest, well, maybe it’s a nudge, that you consider a universal design gift. How does that work? It starts with the best part of gift giving, thinking about the other person. Take a moment to do an assessment of their needs; notice what is working great, what is causing them problems and maybe what might become a problem down the road. Now go ahead and match a gift to the need.
If something like arthritis makes doing some kitchen tasks hard, pick up new utensils that have easier to grip handles and which require less strength. If appropriate, give the gift of a kitchen renovation (that’s the extreme opposite, eh). But in both cases the result is the same, a significant other will feel cared for and will have a better experience more than more stuff. For more ideas, look in the SHOP section of this website under Retailers.
Wishing you the warmest of holidays and, as we head into 2011, a year full of dreams fulfilled!
Konrad Kaletsch, Universal Design Resource