Christmas with the family

Painter Don Fowlie gives tickets to the Cowichan Capitals as presents. - Peter W. Rusland
Painter Don Fowlie gives tickets to the Cowichan Capitals as presents.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Fairness, and going with the family flow, is how some valley grandparents play fair with Christmas gift-giving.

“I send them each a cheque for the same amount,” said Lionel Laviolette. “They’re saving it for college.”

“I do gift certificates,” noted Astrid Notte. “My eldest grandchild, Monique, is in university, and says ‘I need money for groceries’, so it’s a Superstore kind of thing.

“For Spencer (8), my plan is to take him to the Red Balloon (toy shop) so he can pick out something.”

Pauline Dunlop called her gift-giving “pretty equal” among three grandkids, and a great-grandchild.

“It depends on their age, so we usually ask the parents, and take our cue from their answer.”

Pat Fischer perennially gives pajamas to her four grandkids and great-grandchild.

“They love it every year.”

John Jones has one easy grandchild to buy for, and one that requires more thought.

“With the boy, who’s 14, you can get him anything and he’s happy. If I had the money, I’d buy him a $2,000 oscilloscope.”

His granddaughter is age 10 and good in school “but she’s starting to get interested in clothes. What can you get her?” he surmised.

Don Fowlie has grandnephews and nieces, so he keeps gift buying simple.

“We get them hockey tickets to the Cowichan Capitals. It’s good entertainment and most kids get enough toys, money and books,” he said. “It’s hard to get them something special.”

But family gatherings remain special to most grandparents who try to avoid holiday stress.

Fowlie said family comes to his place Christmas Eve “then we go elsewhere Christmas Day.

“We get along; there’s no fisticuffs.”

Jones’ wife decides where they’ll travel.

“This year we’re going to Sayward,” he said calmly about the approaching yuletide. My main stress is getting ready to bottle my next 22 litres of ale.”

Fischer stated she never worries about Noel stress.

“They all live in Vancouver, so it’s not hard.”

Joan Lee said her granddaughter lives with her and tells her what she wants, gift-wise.

“My grand-daughter makes me happy. Alternative years she goes to her mother’s in Victoria; otherwise, I do the dinner.”

Jeanette Allan said she doesn’t travel at Christmas to see her six grandkids.

“Our family is spread across the country so it’s a long way. Our stress is in November, getting stuff mailed out on time.”

Dunlop said Christmas dinner stress is less as everyone brings food and gets involved.

“That reduces the stress, and allows grandparents to enjoy their time. Everyone feels involved, and it’s very Christmasy.”


And for Gramma and Grampa?

Most grandparents say they have most of the stuff they want.

“Peace, joy and love” topped Astrid Notte’s list.

“I don’t think much about me; I just want my family to be happy, and of course have good skiing.”

Don Fowlie said he’s already got his gift. “Boat parts.”

Lionel Laviolette said he wants nothing.

“I live by myself, and my sister lives in Nanaimo, and we exchange gifts.”

Jeanette Allan simply wants “a phone call” from family, while Joan Lee said she has everything she needs.

But Pat Fischer had one specific gift on her list. “I want an iPad.”

Like Fowlie, John Jones said Christmas came early — from Mark’s Work Wearhouse.

“I got a shirt and a jacket.”

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