All ears

Antelope Valley Press - - Valley Life -

Dear An­nie: Lots of peo­ple need noth­ing, but ev­ery­one wants some­thing. If you ask some­one di­rectly, “What do you want for Christ­mas/your birthday/the hol­i­days?” then they’ll prob­a­bly say, “Noth­ing.” Or “Save your money.” So don’t ask. Just pay at­ten­tion.

I learned from my older sis­ter that if you watch and lis­ten, you’ll eas­ily think of a gift they’ll love. You might no­tice they don’t have a cov­ered serv­ing dish, have never heard of a blen­der bot­tle or haven’t got­ten around to fram­ing a spe­cial poster. Per­haps they will men­tion lov­ing a par­tic­u­lar theater, from which you can order tick­ets.

Last Christ­mas, when my sis­ter was talk­ing about an up­com­ing Baltic cruise, a light bulb went on. I drove to a cur­rency ex­change kiosk in the mall and bought her seven dif­fer­ent coun­tries’ worth of pocket money. The whole gift cost me less than $100. She was thrilled, and I was thrilled to have learned from the GGGOAT: great­est gift-giver of all time.

— For the Per­son Who Has Ev­ery­thing

Dear Ev­ery­thing:

Thank you for point­ing out how we learn more from ob­serv­ing peo­ple — watch­ing what they do rather than what they say. And it is also out­stand­ing be­cause the best gift you can give some­one is to hear them. It is not just your phys­i­cal pres­ence but also your men­tal aware­ness, re­ally lis­ten­ing to what they say and how they say it. Con­grat­u­la­tions on crack­ing an im­por­tant code in re­la­tion­ships; namely, the gift of lis­ten­ing. Your sis­ter sounds very wise, and so do you.

Dear An­nie: You gave won­der­ful ad­vice to “One Con­cerned Brother” about gen­tly ap­pre­ci­at­ing and help­ing his 90-year-old sis­ter who chooses to con­tinue taking care of her live­stock. Cher­ish­ing the sweet twi­light years is eas­ier if car­ing peo­ple can un­der­stand what’s re­ally im­por­tant, and your ad­vice will help get that across. So many dear hearts get in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized to help them be “safe.” And by do­ing so, many older peo­ple lose their in­de­pen­dence and what makes them unique.

— Don’t Break Their Hearts to Save Them

Dear Don’t Break

Their Hearts: Thank you for your kind let­ter. Do­ing what we love, and hav­ing a rea­son or pur­pose to get up in the morn­ing each day, keeps all of us health­ier at any age.

Dear An­nie: It’s a pretty sad sight when vis­it­ing cof­fee shops and restau­rants these days.

Here’s a typ­i­cal sce­nario: an older cou­ple sit­ting at a break­fast ta­ble, not talk­ing to each other. They are hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions on their phones, mes­sag­ing away. Break­fast is served, but they con­tinue tex­ting. After eat­ing, it’s the same thing.

Then you have the younger cou­ple nearby, tex­ting away, putting their legs on nearby chairs. They stop to order food, and then it’s back to tex­ting or scrolling. Break­fast or din­ner is served, and they are still tex­ting. After eat­ing, they’re still at it.

My ques­tion is, why come to­gether if there is no com­mu­ni­ca­tion what­so­ever?

— Flipped Out Flip Phone User

Dear Flip Phone User:

You paint a grim pic­ture of restau­rants to­day. While it is true that some cou­ples pay more at­ten­tion to their phones than to each other when eat­ing out, there are plenty of us who pre­fer to talk to our din­ing com­pan­ions.

When you pay at­ten­tion to the per­son op­po­site you at a ta­ble, it is easy to ig­nore oth­ers in the restau­rant and not be both­ered by their ridicu­lous be­hav­ior. Plus, be­hav­ior can be catch­ing. If you choose to pay more at­ten­tion to your part­ner than your phone — or than to the din­ers around you — then oth­ers might choose to do the same.

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