Caring gifts

IT is easy for Christmas to slip out of focus. Gift-giving is part of that. Every parent, grandparent, and friend wants to buy gifts that will brighten, particularly a child's Christmas. They may be the latest in inventions, like this year's robots that turn into guns and vehicles, or last year's Cabbage Patch dolls. Or they may be old standbys; sometimes they're not even conventional toys, but other items that challenge and intrigue a child.

The three current favorites of an eight-year-old we know are a balance scale on which he weighs household objects; a 40-year-old toy bowling alley; and an antiquated mechanical typewriter on which he composes stories of increasing complexity.

One Christmas a little boy we knew even unwrapped an overwhelming array of the latest toys his family had purchased, then headed for the kitchen, where he played happily with his all-time favorite, a cylindrical oatmeal container he rolled up and down the slanted floor.

How much the gift costs or whether it is heavily promoted - this season's trendy item - does not matter. One can give generously of one's caring, and think about the interests and needs of children (or adults) before selecting gifts. Each receiver is individual. After all, not even oatmeal boxes are for everyone.

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