Quick note: when your sib w/disabilities can’t shop for presents alonePosted: November 1, 2010
I am currently trying to coordinate gift-giving for my father’s birthday and for Chanukah, which both happen in the next two months, for…well, almost everyone in the family. Mom and I routinely discuss gifts for Dad’s birthday and for Dad and Lily for Chanukah. Dad and I chat about gifts for Mom and Lily. So, it’s not a new thing, my helping to coordinate gifts. I suspect that this is true of most families, in fact.
But it’s really hard to talk to Lily about gifts for Mom and Dad; she just isn’t very clear on the concept of giving a present to someone else. It’s taken her years to demonstrate mastery of the concept that other people are getting her things when she’s the recipient of gifts, and she tends to think of gifts in general as the things we get her. If I ask her what to get, say, for Mom’s birthday, she’ll normally answer with “Cake!” Sometimes she’ll give the names of her Star Trek action figures – they are, after all, more than just possessions to her. We (= my parents, me) normally pick things out to give on her behalf, things that match her personality or that are related to her interactions with the recipient. Stuff related to the kitchen or garden, because she and Mom bake cookies and spend time outside together, or a book for Dad, who is an avid reader. It caught Dad off guard this past year that one of Lily’s staff had made plans with Lily for Mothers’ Day, and that they had contacted me for help, and that it really was just the kids who had made it all happen. He’s had to be involved in every Mothers’ Day project involving Lily for years now.
So it’s just amusing to me, here in this moment, that I wrote a fairly long email to my sister’s staff this morning, asking them to help her brainstorm ideas and giving them some of my own in the case that nothing productive occurs, as I expect nothing significant to occur. I’m delighted that they are supportive of her as an individual who can give gifts on her own, and that they put in a lot of effort, driving her to the store, for instance, or making time for the art projects that turn into cards or wrapping.
But it’s definitely something that struck me as a not-entirely-common aspect of life with Lily: she’s a friendly, relatively generous person, but it takes a team to help her express that during social occasions that involve gifts.