This is the time of year when we scratch our heads and try to figure out what to give our friends and loved ones for the holidays. I thought I would make it easy and tell you precisely what not to get the boomers on your list -- especially if I'm one of them. (Read the top five no-no's and check out our slide show below.)
1. Classic anything. "Classic" has come to mean "golden oldies." A "classic" gift invariably triggers one of these questions: "Is Keith Richards dead?" or "Doesn't Tina Turner look great for her age?" The answers are: yes and yes. My advice: Unless your gift has the word "Ferrari" after the "classic," don't buy it. This includes, but is not limited to, Beach Boys Classic Collection, Beatles Classic Collection and The Three Stooges Classic Collection.
Nostalgia has its place. And in my home, that place is in a box in the garage.
Seriously, part of aging happily is not living in the past and instead embracing -- or at least being open-minded about -- what's new. Why do people assume that a boomer's tastes in music, food or books are emotionally rooted to what was appealing 30 years ago? For the record, my dancing-alone-in-the-shower song is the Black Eyed Peas singing "I Gotta Feeling."
2. A copy of "Internet for Dummies." Honestly, can we bury this stereotype once and for all? Boomers understand technology, use technology and created the groundwork for technology. We may think that Twitter is a big time-suck, but that's a personal choice -- not something born from ignorance.
I also wouldn't mind not getting any more electronic gadgets I don't actually need. My head has been imploding lately with all my devices. My phone does everything I need it to do and my iPad2 does more of it on a screen big enough that I can actually see it. What else can I possibly use except a device to do the grocery shopping and drive carpool for me?
Technology has its place in our lives, but shouldn't become our lives. I spend too much time in front of screens as it is and not enough time in front of faces. Don't give me one more device that allows me to connect, but just not in person.
3. Anything cruise-related. I know this is going to unleash the full force and fury of the www.cruisecritic.com crowd, but I associate the word "cruise" with people who aren't especially adventuresome. I'll man up here and admit I've taken a few cruises when I had both elderly relatives and young children in tow. Cruising isn't a bad way to take multi-generational vacations for the folks on either end of the age scale. But for those of us in the middle, it's hard to imagine it being anything more than something you do to accommodate others. Don't we do that enough already?
When I want a do-nothing vacation, I know the perfect spot in Kauai to head where nobody makes me dress up for dinner. And when I want more adventure, I prefer the self-discovery that comes from independent travel. To each, his own. But go ahead cruisers, flame me. I know you want to.
4. Anything with an elastic waistband. I can't think of a more insulting gift than one that says your mid-section has expanded so much that these are the only pants you likely find comfortable. Yes, I have days that may be true, but for the holidays, I would prefer not to be reminded of it.
A few years ago, velour sweatsuits were in Vogue -- something for which I will forever thank Juicy Couture. But casual clothes are one thing, work clothes a totally other. A real gift from the clothing design community would be work clothes not intended for 20-somethings. I'm too old for mini-skirts and my feet protest high heels.
Maybe a better gift would be an instructional session with a personal shopper who specializes in boomer women in the workplace? I know: Somewhere there is a cruise ship that offers that very lecture.
5. Tschotkes of any kind from my children. After being around for 50 or 60 years, most of us have enough of what we need and plenty of what we want. I don't want any more dust-collectors. With apologies to our friends at Stylelist.com here, about the last thing in the world an empty nester wants a tea-cup-for-one that costs $22.50 and reminds her that her kids are gone and never call. And I don't know a mother alive who would want a set of five wooden owls just like the ones the kids used to make but that cost a whooping $229. (Although we do love the polka dot Anthropologie slippers.)
Show me you love me by donating to my favorite charity. Prove that we're close by knowing what that charity is. Demonstrate that I raised you well by giving something to someone who needs it and then tell me about it. There is no finer gift you can bestow upon me than letting me know you are happy.