The Christmas gift challenge for modern grandparents

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Annie Joubert

gift cardBelonging to a thoroughly modern family, my grandchildren have three sets of grandparents – if you wore their shoes, you might think of that scenario as a huge blessing when it comes to birthdays, Easter and Christmas.

However there is a bit of a downside and it’s about all of us grandparents wanting to bestow our “old head” experience on to their young shoulders.  This kicks in usually around exam time, and if not then, certainly when the results emerge (albeit important, potentially life-changing ones such as GCSEs, AS and A-levels).

My husband and I have learnt during those stressful times that grandparental pressure is not helpful, particularly en-masse (remember we are in triplicate). We dipped our oar in with the exam/career advice for our No. 1 grandson – the lack of appreciation for the advice was palpable, but we were overwhelmed by the gratitude for the sum of money we gave as a “reward”…

So this meant a change in tactics for No. 2 grandson (yes we try to learn quickly and by experience), where we kept our mouths zipped and proffered a bribe which wasn’t as effective as we had imagined.  Consequently by the time No. 3 grandson’s exam results were whispered, we transferred the money into his bank account quickly, thoroughly exhausted by the nerves of it all – especially underplaying the expectation bit – and thankful that we wouldn’t have to undergo that trauma again!

As far as the grandchildren are concerned, this time of year heralds the “blessing” of multiple grandparents. What would they like for Christmas? Well, even though there are a few of us, we grandparents all abide by The Rule….  And the rule is clear: that we will not try to outdo each other in terms of spend, because it is not good for the grandkids to expect expensive gifts, and because even though we are all in different wealth brackets (regrettably not a Sunday Times Rich List ranking anywhere), the gift should be gratefully received and considered “generous” whether one is rich or poor.

So granddad and I will be buying the gift cards that individually have the purchase-power for only one arm of a designer jumper, or one leg of designer jeans, in the full knowledge that the rest of our band of modern grandparents will buy the same gift cards to the same value so that ultimately a whole item (probably in the sales) is affordable!