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How to Buy a Gift for an Old Man

Young people are always going on about how difficult it is to buy presents for their older relatives. While I’m not sure I would agree that seniors are hard to shop for, I fully agree that we tend to get really crappy gifts.

For the most part, the presents given to old people fall into one of two categories. The first – and most popular – is what I affectionately refer to as “Stuff I Already Have 10 of, God Damn it.”

I don’t know what you young people are thinking but just how many pairs of slippers, pajamas and bathrobes does an old man need? I live in a bungalow not the damned Playboy mansion. You’d think I never get dressed for Christ’s sake.

Likewise, trust me when I tell you that every senior has more than enough “World’s Greatest Grandpa” coffee mugs. I have 14 of the damned things. And If I’m so great why aren’t I getting a Lincoln Continental instead of some piece of crap coffee cup? What the Hell does the world’s worst Grandpa get? Leprosy and a cold water enema?”

And we certainly don’t need any more magazine subscriptions, scarves, crocheted throw rugs, jigsaw puzzles or macramé plant holders. My house looks like a cross between a thrift shop and a damned commune.

(By the way, please save your gag gifts for people with a sense of humor. Whoopee cushions are moronic, insulting and largely redundant when you get to be my age.)

While the “old faithful” gifts lack imagination, I have to admit they’re a damned sight better than those presents that I lump into my second category, “What in the Name of Sweet Christ am I Supposed to do With That?”

I spent a full 3 months last year telling anyone in my family who’d listen that my fishing rod was broken and that I was in desperate need of a new one. And when my birthday rolled around do you know what I got? A pair of bicycle shorts, a gift certificate to the Olive Garden and two tickets to see Alanis Morrisette performing in the Vagina Monologues.

And I’d have to consider that a good year. (It’s certainly better than the roller blades and sheer mesh underpants I got for Christmas.)

Look, this is shopping not subatomic physics for Christ’s sake. If you really want to select a gift that will make an old man happy all you have to do is take in an interest in his activities and pay attention to what he’s telling you.

And if you can’t muster the energy to do that, just go with a bottle of scotch. But make it the good stuff; we seniors like whisky the same we like people – mature and well aged.

Now go buy me a damned fishing rod.

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146 Comments leave one →
  1. 12:11 am

    How ’bout a cat. I was thinking of getting you one, or one in each color for safe measure. Seniors love cats. It says so in my Stuff Seniors Like guide. Unless of course, you already have ten of them.

    • 12:52 am

      Thank you Tricia,

      Cats? Jesus Christ. I’d rather attend the Vagina Monologues wearing nothing but mesh underpants and rollerblades. I’m sorry, Tricia, but not all seniors love cats. That’s nothing but one of those ageist generalizations propagated by underhanded young people.

      I would, however, be very interested in this “Stuff Seniors Like Guide?” I had no idea that such a book existed and would like to check it for accuracy. If it’s promoting this notion of multiple cats for seniors, I have some concern that it may not be entirely up to snuff.

      Regardless, I appreciate the thought, Tricia.

      All the best and thanks for stopping in.


  2. 12:15 am

    Happy birthday, Mr. Mills. I have the same problem. All I wanted for Christmas was a new bowling ball because the one I had was old and starting to chip. I got socks, underwear, and yet another set of dishes.

    • 12:56 am

      Many thanks Ahmnodt,

      My birthday was a good 6 months ago but I still appreciate the well-wishes. Hopefully the underpants you received were most tastefully appointed than the ones I unwrapped. Honestly, who in their right mind thinks it is acceptable to give an old man perforated underwear?

      Take me advice, if you really want a bowling ball forget putting it on any Christmas or birthday wish list and just go out and buy your own.

      All the best.


      • The Celtic Queen permalink
        1:13 am

        Perforated underwear, I’d never thought of them as that before lol that is so funny Don . My day is starting off well .

  3. 12:15 am

    Once again, you have made a good point Don. Personally, I like gift cards, especially from book stores. Maybe young people don’t read…wait, they skim, a form of reading.
    “The World’s Greatest…” are the absolute worst. Good luck on any birthdays or holidays coming up. If you get enough of that stuff maybe you could sell it on eBay.

    • 1:03 am

      Thank you Hal,

      I’m not sure how I feel about those gift cards. While it’s nice to be able to get what you really want, I can’t help but feel they let people off the hook. I like folks to work a little when they are getting me a present.

      A relative of mine told me that she was recently at a birthday party for some 10-year old and that every single kid either brought the birthday boy a gift card or just flat out cash. Maybe I’m just archaic but something about that just doesn’t sit quite right.

      Regardless, I can appreciate your point. In fact, I’d be happy to trade you two front row seats to a questionable theatre production for whatever you might have left on any gift card in your possession.

      I think I’ll have to look into this eBay idea. I’ve got a basement full of unlikely gifts. In fact, I think I’ll take a quick inventory and see what’s there. Maybe I’ll raise enough for a new fishing rod.

      Thank you for visiting, Hal. Always good to hear from you.

      All the best,


  4. 12:20 am

    As much as I would love to see you in a nice pair of biker shorts, I would consider re-gifting a bottle of Glenlivet I get sent each year from a Scotsman I met while in Germany. I am gaining quite a collection…maybe I should save the collection for when I am retired and the family starts giving me “grandpa gifts.”

    • 1:12 am

      Many thanks morethananelectrician,

      Promise to send me a few bottles of that fine scotch and I just may be willing to put on those damned biker shorts. We can negotiate the details later.

      That’s a fine single malt you’ve got there. I only wish the people I knew re-gifted single malts – not pot warmers and fondue sets. I’d be a considerably happier old man.

      If you want to put me on your Christmas list, let me know and I’ll send you my address and a small crate with return postage paid in full.

      All the best,


      • 1:30 am

        Not so fast. If there’s single malt running around looking for a taker, we arm wrestle for it, best of three.

        • 2:22 am

          Arm wrestle? I think not.

          Scrabble or, if pushed, Boggle.


          • 4:44 am

            Old literature majors never die; I’ll take you on at Scrabble.

          • 9:33 pm

            I want to get into that game. I need single malt scotch too. I’m pretty wizard at Scrabble. . .

            • 1:35 pm

              The more the merrier. Especially when good Scotch is involved.

              • Robin permalink
                12:17 am

                What is a good bottle of scotch? I think my husbands step father would,love that but I don’t want to guess and get him something awful. Thanks!

            • Pammiesue permalink
              12:53 am

              Count me in…no Scotch necessary. Just the pleasure of playing w/ such good-natured folks!

  5. elizabeth3hersh permalink
    12:26 am

    Happy belated birthday Don!! The best gifts I have received over the years (my daughters are still in high school and have no income) are the homemade cards they spend hours on and a fistful of flowers pilfered from the back yard. The cards are always current and hilarious (you were featured in one of them) and I treasure them. My youngest is having a birthday in May. She has been asking for a carbon nanotube for two years now. God knows what she will be asking for when she is your age. Perhaps a mini black hole spun off from the Large Hadron Collider? If only it were as easy as a fishing pole.

    • 1:26 am

      Thank you Elizabeth,

      Always nice to have you stop in. My Aggie always said that the homemade cards were her favorite gifts too. They were certainly the only birthday cards she ever saved. In fact, there’s a plastic container in the basement stuffed to the rim with them. I admit too that when I was working I had more than a couple of homemade “artworks” hanging in my office.

      I have no idea what a carbon nanotube is but it sounds impressive and certainly more ambitious than a request for a gaming system or a belly ring. So, unless she runs toward the evil genius side of things, I hope you are able to grant her request. She sounds like an impressive young woman.

      All the best and thanks for visiting. I appreciate it.


  6. 12:30 am

    My brother-in-law, who is way older than I, complained about the same thing. So for his birthday, I gave him a mega-dildo, dressed up as an ocean fishing tuna trolling lure (We’ve done some serious tuna fishing together – that’s real tuna. Get your mind out of the gutter). He said it was the best damn present he ever got. In return, I got one of those damn plank mounted bass things that say, “Give me back that fillet of fish . . . ” Next year, I’m giving him a 12-pack of depends.

    • 1:30 am

      Thank you Jammer,

      I applaud your imagination. That type of gift-giving would never work with my brothers. My older brother Elgin would almost certianly have a stroke. And god knows what mischief my younger brother York might get up to. I need a drink just thinking of it.

      You’re place must be all manner of fun at Christmas.

      All the best, Jammer.


  7. The Celtic Queen permalink
    12:37 am

    Oh Don please watch out or it will be a slap on the hand from Nursie herself for being so negative. Well you have every damn right to be. I bought my husband a fly fishing combo for his 50th. I went round all the shops that sell fishing gear and carefully selected what was right for him so yes you should be ticked off too to receive underwear and knitted rugs.
    I’d be honoured to go fishing with you too as I love it. I’ll even gut the fish for you, how’s that? Another thing my grandfather used to do with us kids, take us fishing to Loch Doon in Scotland.
    Magic memories of a wonderful grandfather.
    Happy birthday for whenever it is.

    • 2:00 am

      Thank you Celtic Queen,

      I’ve known nursemyra for a good long time and have always found her to be a kind and sensible woman. I’m quite sure there won’t be any need for slapping.

      I’m envious of your husband’s gift and your fishing expeditions in Scotland with your grandfather – I’ve never had the chance and am sure it would be quite an amazing experience. It’s unlikely I’ll ever make the trek but you never know…perhaps I can trick York into making the trip with me by telling him we’re going to an all singles Club Med resort. It might be worth it just to see him climb into a fishing boat wearing his ridiculous leather trousers.

      Best regards,


      • The Celtic Queen permalink
        2:31 am

        Poor York, he does take a lot of ribbing. I think the fishermen in Scotland would also be keen to see such a sight. Imagine the fishing tales in the pubs that night. Most of them are prone to a bit of exaggeration so the locals wouldn’t know what to believe. Does York really wear leather trousers?

  8. 12:57 am

    Dear Mr. Mills,

    Are you writing this because your birthday just passed? As long as YOU didn’t just pass!

    When I got to sheer mesh underpants I could NOT control my laughter. Even I, a pretty crappy gift giver would have NEVER thought of that as an item to wrap up for you no matter what the occasion. I do hope you get your fishing rod. One thing my dear departed mom always told me: you can’t go wrong giving Seniors either food or drink. (Depending on their tastes). After that, I’ve never given an un-appreciated gift. (I think.) My mom always loved a nice box of chocolates. Remember when a great gift was a carton of cigarettes? Those were the days.

    Well, here’s to hoping you finally get that fishin’ rod, PLEASE give away the gift certificate to Olive Garden to a homeless person, and enjoy your day. Whenever that day is.


    • 2:19 am

      Many thanks Carol,

      My birthday passed a 6 months ago. I just hold a grudge for a very, very long time. As far as I’m aware, I continue to be alive – I do appreciate your checking though. Nice to be asked once in a while.

      Your mother is a sensible woman. If someone made me a decent pot roast and mashed potatoes for my birthday I’d be over the damned moon. Throw in a bottle of scotch and I’d be rewriting my will before we got to dessert.

      And I sure do remember when a carton of cigarettes was a great gift. And I have to tell you, I couldn’t control MY laughter when I read that. It just seems like so long ago…

      I’m sure any of your relatives would be happy to receive one of your paintings. That poppy and larkspur watercolor would like just fine over my mantle.

      All the best Carol.


  9. 12:58 am

    Please correct the spelling of occasion! Nothing chaps MY ass more then when I send something and THEN see the typos. Ugh!

  10. 1:14 am

    Yet another wonderful rant. Keep ’em coming!

    • 2:23 am

      Many thanks Richard,

      I’ll do my best. Nice to have you visit. I trust you’re well.

      Best regards,


  11. 1:31 am

    Glazed fruit Mr Mills, you forgot glazed fruit (especially note worthy is the glazed pineapple rings usually reserved for Christmas). Oh and the pièce de résistance, a basket of walnuts and a nut cracker. After you spend 5 hours just removing the cracked shell from the first nut, the novelty is pretty much over.
    No offence little snowflakes, but handmade gifts can be a real smile remover, especially if little Johnny lacks talent.
    Best bet is to just ask for money like the Y gens!

    • The Celtic Queen permalink
      2:05 am

      Oh Yeah the Glazed Fruit Loon, I’d forgotten that stuff or those pre wrapped baskets of dark chocolate and items only old people remember. My mother would freak out.

    • 3:59 pm

      I always give em black walnuts and a cheap nut cracker. You need at least a ten pound sledge hammer to crack them babies 🙂

    • 8:17 pm

      Many thanks Frigginloon.

      I have to admit I’ve been spared the glazed fruit. Thank God for small miracles. And I don’t think anyone in my family would dare give me a nutcracker for fear of what I might do to them with it after opening another “worlds greatest grampa” coffee mug.

      All the best,


  12. momromp permalink
    1:40 am

    Thanks for the wise advice, sir. I am guilty of getting my grandparents terribly useless gifts (e.g., decorative soaps, fancy coffee, holiday-themed potholders…). My dad is partial to gifts of money and he doesn’t consider it in poor taste for anyone to give him a a monetary present, no matter how closely that person is related to him. I’m starting to realize that my dad is a very smart man.

    • 1:59 pm

      Thank you very much momromp,

      I can sympathize with your grandparents. Despite the fact that I haven’t cooked anything on the stove in a about 10 years I may well have the largest collection of holiday-themed pot holders in the Northern Hemisphere. My Arbor Day series is especially impressive.

      I share your assessment of your father. I’m sure he came to point where he decided it was smarter to cut his losses and go for the cold hard cash instead.

      All the best


  13. Mary permalink
    1:48 am

    Mr. Don,

    That was very informative. I never do know what to get my grandparents for special occasions. They already have everything they need/want and no more room to put anything else. I’ve found that a nice card does the trick. Doesn’t take up much room, but still shows that I thought of them. Of course, if my granddad spent 3 months talking about how he needed a new fishing rod, I’d get him one. Shame on your family.

    Oh, and I went shopping with my new boyfriend yesterday, and I knew he was the one when I heard the following words come out of his mouth: “Hang on, I want to go look over here and see if they still have that black cardigan I want.” I figure you’d probably approve.

    Hoping you have a wonderful week,

    • 1:59 pm

      Thank you Mary.

      A card is always nice. Especially if you take the time to add a personal note. Too many of my relatives send those damned joke cards that are basically meant to remind me of the fact that I could drop dead and any second. And all they write in them is “LOL!”

      Maybe I’m a bit sensitive about the subject but I’m never quite sure why it is they’re laughing out loud.

      This young man of yours sounds like a promising catch. A man can never go wrong in a cardigan sweater. I thoroughly approve.

      Thanks for visiting. I hope you have a wonderful week as well.

      Best regards,


  14. 2:05 am

    nothing better than a gift of spending some time together!

    • 2:00 pm

      Thank you Jill,

      You obviously don’t know my family. Still, I agree with the sentiment.

      All the best,


  15. 2:07 am

    Well Don, I started your post and wasthinking how I always bought my father-in-law the 12 year and beyond Glenlivet Scotch, and could never get it wrong. We would have a toast and he was off to the races for the rest of his birthday, holiday, etc., and by the time we were all done bringing bottles (he had 11 kids and many in-laws like me), he was more stocked than an Irish pub the day before Saint Patty’s. After reading your post, I’m patting myself on the back . . . he was also a very avid fisherman. You would have liked him, Don. He was a master sarge for years at Fort Devins, and kept those damn kids in line. He passed last year, and it’s still hard to believe. We poured some shots into the hole.

    • 2:00 pm

      Many thanks Dan,

      You’re a wise man and deserve that pat on the back. I think the gift of scotch is especially appropriate coming from a son-in-law. It shows respect and I imagine he appreciated it a great deal. Sorry to hear he’s no longer with us.

      All the best and thanks for stopping in.


  16. 2:18 am

    You had me at “My house looks like a cross between a thrift shop and a damned commune.” Hysterical!!!!!!!

    Thanks for the laughs Mr Mills.

    • 2:00 pm

      Thank you Sherri,

      It’s more true than I like to admit. I’m going to have to consider holding a yard sale this spring. Any idea what a 2nd hand macramé plant hanger might be going for these days? I have 6 of them.

      All the best,


  17. Friar permalink
    3:03 am

    Geez, Don, I hope you don’t end up going to the Vagina Monologues.

    That would almost give ME a stroke…let alone a man of your advanced years.

    Anyway, I think it’s easier to get a gift for a older man. You can’t go wrong with Scotch or some other form of booze.

    My Mom doesn’t drink, and she has absolutely everything she needs. She keeps telling us “Don’t get me anything”.

    Though I feel bad, and I’d like to. But I have absolutely no idea what to get.

    Any suggestions, for an extremely active 70 year old lady?

    • 2:00 pm

      Thanks Friar,

      I’ve always felt that if you are shopping for a woman and need advice you’re best to ask another woman. I bought Aggie a set of kitchen knives for our 10th wedding anniversary and very nearly ended up being the first thing she used them on.

      Still, I suspect that “Just Jill” from up above may be on to something. I don’t know your mom but you might want to consider making a reservation at a decent restaurant, getting dressed nicely and taking her our for a night on the town. She’d likely appreciate the time together.

      If you don’t think that would be to her liking I just happen to have 2 theatre tickets I’d be prepared to part with.

      All the best, Friar.


  18. 5:06 am

    Mr. Mills, you are preaching to the choir. Consider yourself lucky that, at the very least, you’ve gotten some gifts that might possibly be of use. Redundant as 14 “World’s Greatest Grandpa” coffee mugs may be, there is still the slim hope that one day some people may drop by and drink out of them.

    The worst gift givers are the “regifters.” What would you possibly do with a Scooby Doo Chia Pet, other than pass it on to someone else? And that’s what the person who gave it to you did! That just makes you one more link in a pretty sad chain.

    Even the bad gifts you received have some small use. The gift certificate to the Olive Garden and Vagina Monologue tickets can be sold for a percentage of their value, thus possibly emabling you to use the cash to get that fishing pole. Even the bicycle shorts,if they are the right size, can provide certain comfort and support as an undergarment.

    Good luck with the fishing (and the scotch.)

    • 2:34 pm

      Thank you bmj2k,

      Slim hope indeed. Although I have to admit that if I ever do get all of my relatives together in one room I may well just put the mugs to use. Having all 14 in play at one time may help get the message across that I don’t require any more. (Of course it may also send the message that I’m very proud and an avid collector but that may be a risk I have to take.)

      And I suppose you’re right. I should consider myself fortunate that I’ve been given gifts that I can dispose of for some measure of personal gain and been spared the Chia pets. And, thankfully, I’ve also managed to avoid whole “Old Fishermen Never Die, they just….” collection of humorous goodies.

      All the best, bmj2k. Always good to hear from you.


  19. 5:53 am

    on the bright side, don, nobody got you a savings bond that matures in 10 years. that would either be sarcastic, or bought for you by someone who thinks he’s in your will. another silver lining–you never have to shop for york’s birthday again. you know that whoppee cushion will result in hours of hee-hees from york, and just think of the pattern those mesh undies will leave on his bum when he wears them under those leather pants he loves!

    p.s. for your next birthday, i’m going to buy you a dirt devil hand vacuum so you can handily clean any crumbs off your recliner (including relatives). 😉

    • York Mills permalink
      6:23 am

      Hee hee…

      Hello young lady. Whoopee cushions don’t make me say hee hee. They make me say Whoopee!!!

      Hee hee.

    • 2:35 pm

      Thank you Nonnie,

      That’s a very good point. And no one has bought me a “lifetime supply” of anything either. That would be more than a little cheeky.

      And yes, any gag gifts I receive do find a good home with York. Unfortunately, he’s also the one who tends to give them to me so in some ways I wish he’d just cut out the middle man and spare me the embarrassment of having to open them.

      Best regards,


      p.s. if that Dirt Devil delivers on your promise, it could end up being the best gift I’ve ever received. Many thanks

  20. 6:30 am

    This is more proof that young people don’t think. The best gifts to buy seniors is something useful either they want or you want. That way when they die, you aren’t stuck hauling bicycle shorts, mesh underwear, rollerblades and 14 ‘World’s Greatest Grandpa’ coffee mugs to the thrift store. You can just go fishing.


    • 2:36 pm

      An excellent point, yellowcat.

      More young people would be wise to take that kind of long-term view. Perhaps I’ll start advising relatives that any gift they give me will be returned to them as one of the conditions of my will. It might increase the quality of presents substantially.

      Of course, the drawback for me would be that they might be less inclined to give consumables like scotch and digestive biscuits.

      All the best,


  21. 7:18 am

    Dear Don, may I swap you a bottle of single malt whiskey for all those jigsaws and magazine subscriptions? I love doing jigsaws and my sub for New Scientist is about to run out

    • 2:36 pm

      Thank you Nursemyra,

      I’d be delighted to negotiate an exchange. The magazines may not be to your taste (I have more copies of Seniors Today, Seniors Tomorrow and Seniors Weekly than you can shake a stick at) but hopefully the wide assortment of jigsaw puzzles will more than make up for it.

      All the best and watch your mail!


  22. 8:39 am

    So I guess I have to take back the old ‘Singing Bass.’

    Personally, once I hit 30, I just wanted experience and travel. I’d rather go to Thailand than get a damn bottle of Brute (by Fabergie). But maybe I’m crazy.

    Thank God, before this post I was beginning to think that I was the only person on the planet earth who doesn’t care what Alanis Morrisette’s vagina has to say. After hearing that pornographic description of being cheated on by the asexual looking Dave Coulier ‘in the theater,’ I began to lose all interest.

    • 2:36 pm

      Thank you Scott,

      I don’t think you need to worry about your sanity. I think any young man would be wise to pick travel over perfume. And I’m sorry, but there is nothing “brutish” about a man smelling like a french prostitute. Men should smell like hard work, patriotism and pipe tobacco (but that’s a whole other post.)

      Many thanks for visiting, Scott.

      All the best,


    • The Celtic Queen permalink
      12:38 am

      I thought Alanis sounded really good at the closing of the winter Olympics last night as did Avril. Sometimes these kids really do surprise me. Surprisingly enough I also enjoyed Nickelback.

  23. 9:32 am

    I hope your relatives read your blog. I have trouble sometimes getting anyone to listen to me. Hope you find just the right rod.

    • 2:37 pm

      Many thanks Ann,

      It’s very frustrating when you’re not being heard. I’m sorry to hear that you experience that on occasion.

      I appreciate your stopping in and hope to hear from you again.

      All the best,


  24. Lynn permalink
    12:50 pm

    one year i surprised my 86 yr old uncle with a viewing of his old slides from the 40s. he rolled his w/c chair right up to the wall and pointed out everyone in each slide. took hours to finish…but he really enjoyed it and so did we! ……’s hoping you get that fishing-rod don!

    • 2:37 pm

      Many thanks Lynn,

      That sounds like a truly wonderful gift. Good on you for thinking of it and for taking the time to go through the photos with your uncle.

      Well done.

      All the best,


  25. DJ Mills permalink
    1:09 pm

    Speak for yourself Mr. Mills. A free meal at Olive Garden and a night at the theatre sounds like a damn good time to me, even if it is Alanis Morisette (I recently saw her role in the 5th season of Weeds. Surprisingly, she’s a good actress).

    I’m trying to recall some of the notable gifts I got for my grandmother. I think her favorite gift was a glass humming bird wind chime. She hung it in her kitchen window that overlooks her garden. She still has it hanging there to this day. Back in 2004 I was at job training in Petaluma, CA, right outside wine country. I somehow ended up at a wine auction and won, for free, a case of Shafer Hillside Select, Cabernet Sauvignon. I gave it to her for Christmas, boy did she love that. Recently, the only thing I get her is a regular phone call. I kind of feel like I have been slacking, thanks for making me feel like an asshole. I do miss her though. I live on the other side of the country and don’t get home very often. She’s the only one of my grandparents I was ever close with. Her husband died when I was 14 and had dementia or Alzheimer’s or whatever you want to call it for most of my life. Although I get my name from my dad’s parents, I never really knew them. They lived a good 13 hours from where I grew up. And frankly, when I did see them, I didn’t like them.

    • 8:32 pm

      Nice to hear from you D.J.

      Rest assured, I only speak for myself. I believe in my views but I don’t expect others to share them.

      Part of the reason I’m disgruntled about the Olive Garden is that I need a damned fishing rod, not all you can eat pasta and unlimited soda refills. The other reason would be that while I don’t mind eating alone at the Food Here Family Diner I don’t fancy the idea of schlepping myself over to the Olive Garden to eat by myself. I’d ask my brother York to join me but he only goes to singles bars and Dennys. It’s a long story…

      As for the theatre, well, that’s just a question of taste. I’ve seen plenty of live theatre and enjoyed it well enough but I have no interest in gynaecological monologues. Give me a decent farce any day of the week.

      It’s nice that you’ve put some thought into your grandmother’s presents. You’re covering the waterfront there, D.J., with wind chimes and a case of wine. I’m sure she was grateful for both.

      And it’s my job to make you young people feel bad. Stop your damned slacking, send her some flowers and give her a phone call. You’ll be glad you did. And I’m sure she’ll appreciate it too.

      Hopefully you’ll get a chance to visit her soon.

      All the best, D.J. Always good to have you stop in.


  26. Katsy permalink
    4:26 pm

    Hey, Don, don’t forget hankies. Your nose would fall off long before you used up all those babies!

    • 8:39 pm

      Many thanks Katsy,

      Funny you should mention that. People stopped giving me hankies about 20 years ago – just around the time I started actually needing them. I don’t think most people even know what they are anymore.

      All the best,


  27. 9:37 pm

    On the bright side, at least you’re still vertical and able to receive gifts. Cheer up Don, at least you’re not on the Drool Team. Still, at your age, you do deserve some excellent brown liquor and an expensive fishing pole…you’ve earned it God Damn It!!

    • 1:30 pm

      Thank you Fundamental Jelly,

      I wasn’t aware there was an actual team. Is it a competitive venture? Because if they are looking for recruits I may be able to make a few referrals.

      All the best, FJ, and thanks for visiting.


  28. Cecilia permalink
    10:28 pm

    Great points. Scotch is a very respectful gift to give to an aged and smart person. Or a bottle of wine. Not aged in oak, though. This is strategy of young narrow mindede economically guided person to produce more and faster. Respecting the terroir and the time, that is something a person of good taste does. 😉

    Grande abraço – vou me lembrar do whisky quando te visitar um dia, Don.

    • 1:31 pm

      Many thanks Cecilia,

      Nice to hear from a young person who understands the importance of patience and tradition (and who clearly has excellent taste).

      Todo o melhor, Cecilia. Eu espero que você é feliz e bom.


  29. 12:18 am

    Don –

    You would think that the edge would have worn off receiving thoughtless gifts by your advanced age. I’m sure on your way to advanced adulthood you must have been showered with socks, ties, off-brand cologne, off-brand shaving cream, off-brand coffee mugs and the occasional bag of off-brand assorted godawful candy.

    Kids just don’t know how to shop for their parents and grandparents. First of all, they usually are using your money. Instead of this freeing them to go wild and use their imagination, it usually fires up their mercenary instincts and has them searching for what will net them the greatest amount of change, which they spend on themselves.

    You send them out with a $50 and you get a 3-pack of briefs and a 99-cent card. You may get a balloon attached to this, but in most cases, a card is a card is a card. You won’t even get a gift receipt, so you won’t be able to exchange their $5.98 purchase for something you’d really enjoy, like a 3-year old paperback or a 6-pack of beer.

    It just seems that this kind of thoughtlessness would somehow become a normal part of life and gradually change from genuine hurt to ennui to jaded bitterness, often expressed in written form.

    Cheer up, Don. I’ll be ready next year with something every octagenarian can enjoy: the 2010 edition of Quicken Will Re-Writer Express. With the latest version, you can now disown or otherwise cut out of the will up to 40 relatives with one easy-to-use dialog box.

    • 1:43 pm

      Many thanks CLT,

      The edge hasn’t worn off as much as its been honed to an annoying edge. I didn’t mind the thoughtless gifts as much when I was middle aged but once you hit 65 you start to feel as though you should be revered and that the gifts you receive should reflect that.

      I took a quick look through my hall closet and found all manor of crap that I’ve received/stored over the years. In addition to the items on your list, you can add the following items that no old man in his right mind would want:

      Tony Hawk Underground for the Playstation III
      A Tamagotchi
      Sean Jean body mist
      A small puppy (note, they don’t respond well to storage in hall closets)
      A tamagotchi
      Hemp sheets
      Orange Flip flops
      Metallica Tour T-shirts

      and the list goes on…

      It’s frustrating. Not a damned fishing rod in sight.

      Still, I look forward to getting that Will Re-Writer and can assure you that I will put it to good – and regular – use.

      All the best,


  30. Clifton L. Tanager permalink
    12:29 am

    Don –

    I’m saddened (but not surprised) to see the tradition of “respecting” our elders through the careless selection of gifts continues to this very day.

    It didn’t used to be like this. When my dad wanted something for his birthday, he went out and bought it himself. We were left to make his cake, freshen his scotch and treat him as a king among men. If he chose to get himself a new hunting rifle with the rest of the grocery money, so be it. It was his birthday and he could do whatever he wanted, regardless of upcoming expenses or the fact that the nearest hunting area was nearly 600 miles away.

    If he chose to spend his 34th birthday at the local burlesque house, leaving us home to eat his cake and listen to Mom’s brand new nicknames for him, that was his right. He’d earned it by simply making it through another tumultuous year, made even more harrowing by his racetrack losses.

    At some point the power changed hands. Kids were now expected to give Dad the kingly existence he expected, and as usual, we fell far short. My brother and I would often try to gain his acceptance by spending the gift money on hookers, raffle tickets and land speculation, much as he would have done, given the chance.

    We would often raid the cookie jar for additional cash which we would spend on scotch and cigars and distribute among our friends. We felt our hearts were in the right place, but we were greeted by Dad’s righteous anger and loaded hunting rifle when we finally returned home, drunk and hacking.

    A compromise must have been made without our knowledge, because the world soon settled into the pattern of buying gifts no one would want, rather than blowing the money on things of no permanent value or legality.

    I think we all lost something that day. It was several years before I was able to access racetracks, hookers and fine cigars. I had to sign away my right to “not get shot at” and travel halfway around the world before I could avail myself to the finer things in life.

    Take care, Don. This year tell them you don’t need presents. Just cash and ride to the nearest house of ill repute. Tell them to wait in the parking lot as you’ll be in no shape to drive home when you return.

    • The Celtic Queen permalink
      1:39 am


      Ok now I have to clean my keyboard. Lol that is so funny.
      I had a paternal grandfather a bit like this. Ah Clifton life was so much more fun in those days lol At least there are some great stories to tell.
      I’ll laugh at this all day.

    • 1:18 pm

      Many thanks Clifton,

      That’s one Hell of a story. I always find it very nostalgic to hear the tale of a lad’s awkward struggle to please his father and remember well the nervous anticipation of gift giving. Would my old dad like his present and display it proudly on the mantle? Or would he chastise me for wasting money, crush it in his hands and toss it into the wood burning stove.

      It was a challenging experience but one which shaped the men we later became.

      I’m glad to hear that, in time, you were able to reconcile your feelings and rekindle your love for gambling, fornication and tobacco products. I’m sure your old Dad would be proud. Or furious. Or indifferent. Or something in between. I know mine would.

      All the best and thanks for visiting, Clifton


  31. 1:34 am

    Dear Mr. Mills,

    Thanks for this extremely informative post:)

    I need to remember your tips when I go shopping for my parents. I think I’ve gifted them enough of what they already have 10 of! Making their wardrobes overflow. I even gifted them a clock that had a beautiful design made of differently colored food grains! And they haven’t complained – at least to me:( I wish they had given me some indication…

    The point that I’d like to make however is – that this isn’t a problem only with the old. It’s a problem with everyone…actually! An elderly couple (in their mid-seventies…or would they be young?) visited Europe last year. Now when people visit foreign lands, they experience this inexplicable need to shower their relatives, friends, and all associates (remote and close) with trivia. Believe it or not – I received an “empty” bottle of perfume, and my husband got a shirt that was probably meant for someone double his size! Now this couple knows us well and they know that I don’t wear perfume and would’ve loved a pen or a set of color pencils, and that my husband is fond of wearing clothes that fit!

    I wish people bought gifts more thoughtfully (I included.)

    Your post, as usual, was an eye-opener. I’d look forward to your thoughts on the “reverse-thoughtlessness” illustrated in my example – Do you think that this was some kind of revenge? We had gifted them a suitcase for their journey!

    W. Regards,

    • The Celtic Queen permalink
      2:38 am

      You ‘re so right. My Chinese neighbour’s ‘other’ Chinese husband has come for a visit and along with came an abundance of Chinese souvenirs, one of which was given to us as a token of his appreciation for looking out for Tina and Lulu her daughter. I assume Tina was obviously his wife at some stage. They have taken Australian names as Tina’s other name is Piang Jia so Tina will do nicely. Lulu I’m not so sure about. No nonsense quiet and very shy women they
      are too. We ask no questions as it’s not our business and her explanations go on for ever in English / Chinese and quite frankly she can have 10 ex husbands for all I care.

      Getting to the point Tina’s other husband gave us a clock and pictured on it are numerous palaces, temples, and monuments along with the great wall of China. It has shiny gold hands and all the pictures make it virtually impossible to see the time. Well I’m a minimalist but since I lived here next to Tina I now have an assortment of flowers that never die, vases, sweets that look like nothing I care to describe, how they got through customs is beyond me. Border patrol must have been snoozing I suspect.
      I now have to sit this clock somewhere she can see if for a short time as I would never offend any of them contrarary to what some may think. I accept their gifts graciously but hope to God they don’t give me any more as I’m not the regift type. If I don’t like something I give it to the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.
      Yes Shafali I agree with you, some pencils would have been nice.

      • 1:24 am

        Hi Celtic Queen,

        Notwithstanding the number of husbands (and the serial number of the visiting husband,) I think that the oriental concept of giving gifts is getting jaded – in fact it has become something of a charade.

        For one, there are those innumerable festivals on which you need to (especially if you don’t want to become a social outcast,) carry a gift. These gifts, depending upon the festival have now become standardized. You need to just walk into a shop, and browse through an array of pre-packed gifts – review your budget (and review the receiver’s social standing/prospects of future relationship/and other such arcane factors,) and buy one. For obviously reasons, gift-swapping is common – and if…by an uncommon chance someone has inserted a personal note within the package…the consequences are usually hilarious! (Unwrapping and rewrapping of gifts before passing them on, is a waste of time…)

        Thanks again for sharing your interesting experience:) and commiserating with me on the pencils that never came my way.


    • 1:34 pm

      Many thanks Shafali,

      I agree that giving lousy presents isn’t the sole purview of the young. But I will say that when I give a 20-year old nephew a decorative plate for his birthday instead of a damned ipod there is a small measure of revenge involved. After all, if they best he can do for me is an 18 month kitten calendar I’m not inclined to go to heroic lengths in response.

      In your case, however, I would be inclined to give the elderly couple the benefit of the doubt. The suitcase you gave them is a sensible and entirely appropriate gift and I’m quite sure they felt they were doing the right thing in responding with an oversized shirt and empty perfume bottle. Remember that old folks don’t always have the energy to spend 8-hours in a mall shopping for the perfect gift. And that they tend to have a hard time passing up a bargain.

      While it may not have been thoughtful – and the empty perfume bottle is downright odd – I’m sure they did their best.
      (Still, given your obvious interest in the arts, you’d think that they’d have known that a pen set or colored pencils would be an obvious choice. Perhaps they felt it was too predictable.)

      An odd case but I’m sure there was no malice or ill-will at play.

      All the best, Shafali. And please pass on my best regards to your husband.


      • 1:33 am

        Mr. Mills,

        I suppose you are right. I shouldn’t feel bad about the empty bottle, which came wrapped in a delicate, fragile net! I know that the lady in question had brought about two dozen of those – for all the women she knew in the neighborhood! I think that an unscrupulous perfume-seller must’ve passed it over to her (underhandedly?)

        I did keep that perfume bottle for about two years – wondering whether or not I should tell them about it being empty and their being swindled…then one day I threw the bottle away! No point in taking the fun out of their fond memories of the great bargain they must’ve struck!

        Thanks again for confirming that their action wasn’t driven by a need for revenge:)

        Warm Regards,

  32. 1:55 pm

    Mr Mills

    You know what would be a great XMAS/Birthday/Fathers Day gift for you. A Pogo stick and a slinky. Thats all i have…zman sends

    • 8:14 pm


      If all you have is a slinky and a pogo stick don’t feel you need to give them to me. I’ll manage just fine without them. In fact, if you’ve fallen on hard times let me know. I can always use a pair of extra hands around the house (cleaning eaves, hanging pictures, shifting rocks etc.,) and am prepared to offer a salary comprised of equal parts cash and sage advice. It totals just over $3 an hour.

      Let me know lad. And thanks for the offer of the gifts. Damned generous of you.

      Best regards,


  33. 9:39 pm

    I know that the best thing to give my dad is anything chocolate. . . He absolutely loves it. Or a book about WWII goes down well as well. I’m more likely to give him consumables at this point in time since I know for a fact that in the next decade or possibly sooner I will be tasked with figuring out what to do with all the contents of this man’s house. He is an incurable packrat and collects all sorts of things like coffee mugs and ball caps, none of which have any intrinsic value. The Things he has are what make him feel real, and so he keeps them around. When he dies we will have a heck of a job to clear out all the piles of stuff. . . he has every bit of documentation for every 1040 form he has ever filed since he first started working in 1947 (after de late war) just in case the IRS ever wanted to audit him, which of course, they never did. And that is just the start of the pile of paper. No wonder my mother moved into a separate house from him. Didn’t divorce him, just got her own place. It probably saved their marriage or his life or maybe both.

    Hope you get what you want for Father’s day. . .

    • 8:15 pm

      Many thanks healingmagichands,

      I’ve received a few books of WWII myself and generally consider it to be a very good gift but agree that consumables are the way to go. And it’s funny about you dad’s tax forms. While I’m not a pack rat, I do admit that I still have heating bills, tax bills etc., dating back from the 1960s in my filling cabinet. In fact, I’d likely have more if it weren’t for an unfortunate flood back in 1975 (it wiped out all of my pre-1972 records and receipts).

      While I know I likely won’t ever need them, for some reason it still seems prudent to hold onto them. I suppose some day, someone is going to have a hell of a loft of sifting, sorting and throwing out to do.

      All the best. As always, wonderful to hear from you.


      • 6:43 am

        You should seriously consider marking the files, “Top Secret”, “Classified”, “Burn after reading”. Then, when all the relatives come to hand out all your hard won lifes’ collections, after giving you the cheapest funeral they can afford, they’ll spend a considerable amount of time going over what now amounts to fish wrap. Should they then walk by your grave, a chuckle should be heard emanating from said grave 🙂

  34. 10:13 pm

    You have every reason to be upset, Don. These gifts are insulting, especially to a man of both your caliber and extremely long, drawn out past.

    Seriously, why anyone would buy someone your age sheer mesh underpants is beyond me. Incontinence isn’t something to poke fun at, it’s a serious condition, and to make light of it is not only insensitive, it’s downright rude.

    Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that I went to the bookstore today and found the perfect gift for a well-read man such as yourself. A Choose Your Own Adventure Book for Seniors! Here’s the summary:

    “The Mystery of The Missing Cribbage Board”

    A bison-shaped cribbage board cherished by the Residents of the North York Seniors Centre has been stolen. Your list of possible suspects include a high-ranking former Shriner-turned-Kiwani, an 87 year-old vegetarian who believes that bison should be free to roam in the wild, the ignorant young kid working in the cafeteria, and somebody else but you can’t remember who. With such a long list, your search will be difficult, not to mention exhausting, especially since it’s past your nap time and you haven’t had your recommended daily intake of fiber. How do you find out who is responsible for this? How do you get it back? Will you make it home in time for Kingo Bingo? Is Kingo Bingo even on anymore? Will those kids ever get hoffa yerl awn? Sure, this cribbage board is worth more than the average Old Age Security Pension, but is it worth your life?

    (Let me know if that sounds like something you’d be interested in, Don. If not, I can always exchange it for “The Mystery of The Missing Shuffleboard.”)

    Fantastic post as always, Don. You are like the 1926 Macallan of Scotch Whisky (only maybe just a teeny bit older).

    Your friend,

    • 7:55 am

      Do you have the third book in the series – it’s “The Mystery of the Missing Quoit”

    • 8:15 pm

      Many thanks Bschooled,

      That sounds like a damned fine present. Even better than a macaroni sculpture.

      My interest is already piqued. While my first instinct was to pin the crime on the punk kid (an excellent board game, coincidentally) I’m always suspicious of vegetarianism and other cults. And my experience has always been that people who switch service clubs later in life generally have something to hide.

      All in all, it sounds damned exciting.

      Many thanks for thinking of me.

      All the best,

      Your friend,


  35. 6:55 am


    Anytime i have to buy a gift for my mum, i ask her. Her usual response is “All i want bobby, is for my only son to have grandchildren, to name the first born after your great grandfather (Frederick Bacon Trusty II) regardless of if its a boy or girl, to do your chores and to look after me until the day i die”.

    I think thats a fair present to give my mum. She also swears (not literally LOSTL!) that a cold water enema is refreshing as its one of my chores on a monthly basis.

    I certainly hope that you’re still getting all your heart desires Mr Mills. As you surely deserve it!


    • 8:16 pm

      Many thanks young Bob,

      It certainly is a fair request and you’re a good lad for recognizing it. I’ve often said that if there were more girls named bacon the world would be a more decent place.

      Enjoy your enema time with your mother lad. Those are precious moments and need to be cherished.

      All the best.


  36. lianamerlo permalink
    1:14 am

    Sheer mesh underpants? Vagina Monologues? What were they thinking…

    But you make me reconsider the gifts I’ve given my own grandfather. Luckily he only speaks Italian. Between all the “grazie’s” there are probably a billion pissed off comments that I only understand bits and pieces of. Maybe you should learn a foreign language.

    • 6:24 pm

      Thank you lianamerlo,

      I have no idea what the Hell they might have been thinking. Most likely they weren’t. Or they were just trying to dump a present that was given to them and which they had no use for.

      I’ll give that foreign language idea some thought but truth be told I likely don’t need to. The language young people today speak is completely foreign to me and I’m sure my arcane phrases and use of complete sentences is equally confounding to them.

      Very nice of you to stop in.

      All the best,


  37. 1:06 pm

    Dear Mr. Mills,

    I forgot to mention. The caricature depicting Mr. Clooney and the two aliens has been uploaded to my blog. I should also tell you that curiosity drove me to some cyber-digging, and I did find a picture of you ensconced in a comfortable sofa:) and I should say that you aren’t looking at all crabby! (Is that really you?)

    Warm Regards,

    • 6:29 pm

      Many thanks Shafali,

      I appreciate your letting me know and will be sure to pop over shortly and take a look.

      Yes, I believe I know the photo you are referring to. It was part of the blog until recently – I had to take it down due to privacy issues and some nasty glances I was receiving from young people in my neighborhood. An old man can’t be too careful.

      All the best,


  38. ferxist permalink
    1:10 pm


    Wow. I had assumed that you were without living family in this world. I guess I have been neglecting what my grandfather really wants for his birthday/Grandparents’ Day/Father’s Day/Christmas. However, it is my obligation not to get him a drink, otherwise he’ll die sooner. I still need him to be prouder of me.

    Come to think of it, I think he’s really satisfied with his life. What could I get a man that happy to make him happier? Sir, you tell me.

    Jonathan Ferxist

    PS: And my other grandfather is dead. May he rest in peace.

    • 6:38 pm

      Young Mr. Ferxist,

      Very nice to hear from you again, lad. I don’t have a lot of family but there are some that turn up periodically. The only regular contact I have with anyone is with my young brother York and, to a lesser degree, my older siblings Elgin and Erin.

      I think it is admirable that you are trying to make your grandfather proud and it likely wouldn’t be appropriate for a young man like yourself to buy him alcohol anyway. If you are going to give a man a bottle of scotch, you should be of an age where you can sit down and join him in a drink. I’m not 100% sure, but I seem to recall you might not be quite that age.

      I wish I had a guaranteed winner for you, Jonathan, but I suspect the fact that you’ve already given him your time and respect has laid the groundwork so that any gift is going to be well appreciated.

      The best I can do is suggest that you pay close attention to his interests and shop accordingly. One old man at my senior centre recently received a chess board from his grandson – along with the promise that they would meet every Sunday to play. I thought that was a damned excellent gift.

      Good luck. Let me know what you decide.

      All the best,


  39. 3:47 pm

    Good job, Donald! You keep on YELLING IT LIKE IT IS! Those damn little freaks need to start using what’s left of their drug-idled brains and give some thought to what you want and need!

    PS..Have to admit, though, how you would look in the mesh underpants! I’ll give ya 5 bucks to take a pic of yourself in them and post it.

    • 6:48 pm

      Many thanks trailerparkbarbie,

      Unfortunately, I’m fairly certain that any photo of me in those damned mesh underpants could result in seizure, black outs and/or long term emotional scarring for anyone unfortunate enough to view it. While I can always use an extra $5, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

      I hope you’re well. Always nice to have you stop in.

      Best regards,


  40. 4:46 am

    Hi Don! I’ve truly missed you. I’ve been busy working and I just got my internet hooked up at my new house. I’ve been working on the store: and I think I can come up with a decent bottle of scotch for you.

    • 6:50 pm


      So nice to hear from you. I’m glad you’ve got yourself settled and look forward to visiting your store (or, the link to your store anyway).

      I’ll also look forward to receiving that scotch. Best regards and good luck with the new venture.


  41. 11:27 pm

    Hi again, Don,

    I need some good sound advice. While my kids do try to get me what I want (well…80% of the time), how can I tell them that what I need on my next special occasion is a colonoscopy. I have told them repeatedly but they think that I am joking. I’m not. I have no insurance and need the ol’ poop-shoot and it’s workings checkout. Hell, for Christmas, all I wanted was some money to have my gums scraped but that fell on deaf ears.I got a “Wonderful Mother” statue, a gift certificate for some wrinkle cream, and a damn gigantic skillet! I had to dig my hidden money out of my old bowling shoes in my closet to pay for that! So, just how can I get them to get me a gift certificate for a colonoscopy? I’d appreciate an answer as soon as possible as I have been having “unusal bowel movements”.
    Thanks so much, my good buddy, Don!

    • 8:43 pm

      Many thanks trailerparkbarbie,

      I’m curious about why your kids would think that pleading for a colonoscopy is a joke. Obviously they’ve never had one themselves. It’s not a whole lot of laughs as far as I can remember.

      If they refuse to listen to your pleas about the procedure, I’d switch gears and start focussing your conversations entirely on the unusual bowel movements. Spare no details, be as graphic as possible and pick your moments carefully (breakfast is always a good time to discuss abnormal stool). I suspect that after a few days of non-stop talk they’ll be lining you up with a colonoscopy regardless of whether there are any special occasions on the horizon.

      I truly hope it all works out, trailerparkbarbie.

      Good luck and I hope that was of some small help.


  42. Becky permalink
    7:57 pm


    I hope that at some stage in my life I’m half as funny as you are.

  43. 9:29 pm

    Wonderful Donald. Very funny stuff.

    I make sure I buy my grandfather a 12-year-old bottle of Glenlivet for his birthday because, well, he has earned it.

  44. 6:00 am

    Nothing irritates me more than people who ask you what you want for your birthday (or Christmas) — Actually, a lot irritates me as much or more but today’s topic is crappy gifts…

    You’ve known me for 40 years. If you don’t know what to get me you’re a damn fool.

    Actually, one thing that irritates me more than people who ask you what you want for your birthday (or Christmas) is people who ask you what you want and then:

    a) get you something else (especially if they make faces when you listed a few things you actually WOULD like.
    b) when you mention several things, they cut you off and say “Okay, I’ll get you XXX”. Gee. Thanks. Nothing like a God-damned surprise on my birthday (or Christmas).
    c) tell everyone not to get you XXX because they are going to get it and then “forget” or decide you’d like a monogrammed toilet seat better and NO ONE got you XXX. AND, everyone else ALSO bought you a God-damned monogrammed toilet seat. AND they got your God-damned initials wrong.

    • 7:06 pm

      Thank you mudhooks,

      A wonderful comment, I appreciate it. And bang on. I’ve experienced every one of those examples and know that “look” you are talking about only too well. If you’re not going to like my answers, don’t ask me the question in the first place, damn it.

      Many thanks and all the best,


  45. 12:33 pm

    If I was to ever buy you a fishing rod, I’d probably go for the cheapest one, without even considering whether it’s of good quality. And I think you’d complain about it. 😀

  46. 5:51 am

    I’m allergic to soap and many scents. Always have been. I say so every Christmas and birthday, after I unwrap the latest expensive bar of perfumed soap.

    Some, 10 years old or more, are still sitting in a basket in my bathroom, “for visitors”. Visiting family never catches on.

    I ask for books; easy, just a Chapters card. I got one once, because my daughter was on the other side of the continent and didn’t want to mail a box of fancy soaps.

  47. 4:26 am

    Don, you are one funny old fart! Had fun reading this post.

  48. 5:24 am

    What if your grandpa saying he doesn’t care what he gets for christmas or his birthday? And has everything he needs for his hobbies and interests? My grandpa is like this and he doesn’t drink either.

  49. 1:08 pm

    Mr Mills,
    I did a search on what gifts to get seniors and your very humorous forum came up on google first page. Started my morning off with a smile.
    I really do think I have the best Christmas story for bad gifts. One year I opened all from my husband, a bagel toaster, Andi irons for the fire place, present after present of Towels for the guest bathroom ( which he then told his son excited that they would be in his bathroom.). I cried and told everyone I knew including his mom and dad when we went to visit. When they asked what I got for Christmas, I told everyone a Bagel Toaster. My husband never messed up like that again. But that Christmas ended up being the best. The laughter about that Christmas has given over the years has been huge. After all all your bad gifts gave us this very humorous column.
    Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

  50. Rusty permalink
    3:02 pm

    That was shocking, gift buying is not the easiest thing to do especially when you know some people are ungrateful! While you have a suggestion for ‘buying a gift for you’ I have a suggestion how to receive a gift you do not like. 1. Young people don’t don’t have the money as one does when they are older, take into consideration that stuff was on sale! 2. No matter how crummy it may seem to you, that is not what you wanted “fake it” you are hurting their feelings.3. That broken fishing rod you so badly needed repaired, trust me in our minds the general rule of thumb you probably have or will replace it. When it comes to sportings goods, automobile, or electronics older people are Picky! I know because I am older I would prefer to get it myself and I always look forward to the quirky gifts, it’s fresh it’s new and let’s face I wouldn’t buy it for myself in a million years.

  51. 2:12 am

    Something tells me you are a lot younger than your web persona implies. Funny site. Have not laughed this hard for some time.

  52. Pam Lesemann permalink
    5:25 pm

    Enjoyed your site! Reminded me of my father who always answered “socks and underwear” when asked what he wanted as a gift. When he passed away and I was going through his dresser, there were probably at least two dozen unopened packs of underwear along with the old worn threadbare underwear that he continued to wear up until his death. Same for the bathrobes that were given to him through the years, as he wore one that he had bought until the seat of it was transparent! Thanks for the humor…it made my day.

  53. 3:33 am

    Holy poop samples! So very funny! Would love to share the glen livet with you! Such an incredibly funny post! Thanks!

  54. 8:24 pm

    Your humor is better honed than most stand-up comics. If you weren’t so very old, you could take this on the road and become world famous. But all that travel and screaming fans…no it’s better that you sit in your chair and fuminate. (Made up word-make up your own definition to go with it. It comes from ‘fume’ and ‘ruminate’)

    You are reaching the masses just fine…and safer. If a drunken tattooed teen takes offense at almost anything you say about them and shoots their PC screen, it won’t bother you in the least.

    And think of the good it will do the teen, having to finally connect actions to consequences. And a dead pc is like the worst thing imaginable.

    Keep living and writing, you’re a treasure!

  55. ohwell permalink
    6:50 am

    I came here hoping to get a gift idea for my dad, and all I got is scotch and a fishing rod. Well, he doesn’t drink much and I got him scotch last year which he hasn’t finished, and he never goes fishing. Oh well.
    His only hobby is golfing, and how much golfing gear can you buy a man?

  56. 2:47 pm

    My go-to gift for grandpa is Italian cookies from the bakery and a bottle of wine. He doesn’t really NEED anything so I go with items that are edible that he can at least enjoy.

  57. Anonymous permalink
    9:04 pm

    This post has me rolling in laughter. Thank you for your honesty and sense of humor!

  58. Luz permalink
    3:25 am

    Dear Don,

    I loved your blog. I am scrambling for a gift for my 84 year old grandpa whom I adore. I do listen to him and I definetly try not to give him something that he will put in a closet for “safe keeping”. Honestly he seems to not want much. Perhaps the scotch will be up his alley. One year we got him an ipod and filled it up with his favorites plus a few hundred more songs because he loves to dance and listen to his music. But we did that already and this year am at a loss. His favorite activities are long walksand dancing. Before you say walking stick he is more likely to hit me with it than to use it and enjoy it. I really would like to give him something to unwrap this year. Any suggestions?

  59. Anonymous permalink
    9:08 am

    I always give the good scotch … although you could try smoking your hemp sheets..may cheer you up 🙂

  60. Ellie permalink
    7:41 pm

    Im 11 and christmas is three days away. I have nothing for my 53yr old dad except a gift card to DQ and i want to get him somthing else too. I need to know somthing cheap please reply quickly, like today!!!

  61. 6:05 pm

    Hey Don Boy! Could be your relatives think you are too ancient to be sitting on a damp stone, staring into a river and hoping to catch a fish that you would probably throw back.Think about it – but dont dwell on it !

  62. Anonymous permalink
    1:57 pm

    How to select scotch/whiskey/liquor/wine?
    I’m not a experience drinker. =,=

  63. Dana permalink
    7:50 pm

    Funny stuff! My ex-father-in-law’s 80th birthday party is today and, interestingly enough, his name is Donald Millhouse. And, dammit, I don’t know whether he needs a new fishing rod or not!

  64. Sherryl Potts permalink
    9:48 am

    I looked on one of those “what to buy for an elderly person” sites and I took umbrage and sent them a message telling them that my husband and I are aged not decrepit. Some of the suggestions were “pay for meals on wheels”, “a jar of jam”, “consumables”. I’m still grinding my teeth.

  65. Anonymous permalink
    9:23 am

    Mr Mills, Googled present for 86 year old man and voila. Need a Chrissie present for my father in law. After reading all the posts with much amusement – Scotch it is. Have been toying with the idea but hadn’t settled. NOW, that’s it! I have been good in the past and not presented my Don (Donnelly) with anything horrible. I think he has liked everything. (I am going to ask him. And being the Snappy Tom he is – he will tell me). Thanks.

  66. Leah permalink
    9:26 am

    Googled – present for 86 year old man and voila. After reading all with much amusement. Thanks, Scotch it is! My father in law Don (Donnelly) likes scotch.

  67. Anonymous permalink
    9:54 pm

    Give me something that supports my hobby! My hobby is THINKING. So just leave me alone while I am laying on the couch because what I am doing is practicing my hobby! That would be a wonderful present. This also goes for phone calls. When I’m laying on the couch and the phone rings, I look at the incoming phone number (usually a relative) and say, “Oh geez! How much is this call going to cost me!

  68. Anonymous permalink
    4:01 am

    Hah! That really made me laugh! I was hoping for more information though. I have a fairly new uncle (by marriage) in this age range but he lives 800 miles away. I love to visit him when we go home twice a year, but don’t never know what to get him. Anyway, thank YOU for the chuckle!


  69. Dana permalink
    1:06 am

    I forgot about this blog until I received an email about it just now. Maybe you will think this is a ridiculous gift for an old guy, but I recently saw this laughing, rolling monkey on, and it looked a LOT like “Charlie,” the monkey on my dad’s shoulder in Viet Nam before Dad was shot in the spine running to check on one of his “kids” he’d just heard gunned down (Dad was the Unit Commander at age 24). As my dad lay next to his soldier, “knowing” he was dying, he asked the guy for a cigarette, and the guy (I think his name was Andy) told him, “Those things’ll kill ya,” and they both laughed and “Andy” died. Dad said he’d never seen a face so full of peace. But, I digress…. One of the highlights in their Unit was the addition of “Charlie,” and so I printed those pics of Dad with Charlie, and taped them to the box with the animated, battery-operated monkey inside. No other explanation will be necessary, I hope.

  70. Anonymous permalink
    3:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this advice and even more for making your point so hilariously humourous … I’m looking forward to reading your other articles 🙂 … Thanks again … Liz

  71. marcia permalink
    11:18 pm

    Don – I have been down that very road. I remember giving my parents useless gifts. Now, in my very senior years, I am the recipient of the same gifts. Cycles, Don, Cycles. Last year our daughter gave her father a Pedi-egg. (As seen on TV) My husband said, “what the Hell is that? Do I cook with it or wear it?” So, life goes on. Christmas is coming. I’m making a damn list and running copies for all our children!

  72. Shirley permalink
    10:52 pm

    Would an e reader tablet be appropriate? I had enjoyed using it, so I wanted to get it for others too…
    Speaking for someone whose eyesights are starting to deteriorate, and does not seem technologically savvy.

  73. 12:55 am

    Sooo, here is a challenge for you. My fathers only hobby while we were growing up was tinkering with tools and taking things apart and putting them back together. He also enjoyed his garden. He is turning 85, he is our hero. He sacrifices EVERYTHING to give us kids the best. HE HATES musicals and stuff like that. He enjoys cooking, but HATED the Italian cooking classes we sent him and my Mom to. No golf, no fishing, he has a 6th grade education but speaks and writes in 6 different languages. NO MORE GCs to restaurants, so what??? I looked at the indoor aero gardens, he love herbs and gardening, but his hands don’t work so well for him anymore. We bought him an IPad…..HE LOVES IT, but what now??? WE NEED HELP!!!

  74. Anonymous permalink
    11:58 pm

    Who cares!

  75. Kristy permalink
    9:01 pm

    Mr. Mills,

    I have to buy a gift for my Boyfriends Uncle who is turning 70. The man does nothing but watch t.v. and drink his homemade wine. He is a grumpy little Italian man and I am completely stumped. He use to be a wood worker but has since retired. Any suggestions?! Any help is appreciated!! Thanks!

  76. Anonymous permalink
    2:38 pm

    What about just love I mean everybody likes when their family just people like them as a nice way also not everything is about a present!!


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