On My Mind: Gift-giving advice — avoid catalogs


With the holidays lurking just around the corner — who needs to be reminded? All the stores, commercials, etc. have been reminding us since the Fourth of July.

I was going to say “Christmas” instead of holidays, but that seemed too flippant. And “holidays” is a misnomer, according to my old Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1981) which says a holiday is “a period of relaxation.”

Forget relaxation

Now is the time to start making the list to see who has been naughty or nice — who ever admitted to being naughty? — and to begin the awesome task of what to get whom, especially those who have everything.


There are do’s and don’ts to keep in mind and let me tell you a few. For someone who is dieting or an ancient old aunt or a diabetic, candy is a no-no.

(For a recovering alcoholic, no spirits, please. And I assure you that ancient aunt doesn’t need soap or lotion or Passionate cologne. A little bottle of spirits for medicinal purposes wouldn’t hurt.)

Uncle Albert doesn’t need another necktie or another bottle of Old Spice. He could use some spirits too.

Looking through the dozens of catalogs jammed into the mailbox, don’t be tempted by all the cutsie knick-knacks. Most folks have quite enough of them, thank you.


My idea will not be welcomed by retailers, catalog publishers and the like. I’ve done it for a long time: Give to your favorite charity, be it involving people or animals, and preferably local so you know your contribution will help whatever endeavor they represent instead of paying the salary of some overpaid CEO.

Or pay a bill for someone you know is hurting, and heaven knows many people are. A gift of food can be a Godsend as can be warm clothing.

All animal shelters are hurting too, because of the economy — what economy? — and there are so very many abused and abandoned dogs and cats and horses and other farm animals. And if you don’t know the reputable ones, get in touch with me.

There is no tedious wrapping, either.


I will say that a few catalogs have some thoughtful quotations amid the clutter. One, with a nostalgic picture of winter in the country, is this: “We are reminded of a more innocent time when the countryside was at peace with itself and traditional family values reigned.”

I like this one, too: “Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Kiss slowly, forgive quickly, play hard, take chances, give everything and have no regrets. Life is too short to be anything but happy.”

(The red-bellied woodpecker finally showed up Nov. 3, there was a Monarch butterfly on the Cosmos Oct .23, some of the woolly bear caterpillars are all black, which doesn’t bode well for the winter, and the first junco appeared Nov. 1. Welcome, King Winter! Not really … )

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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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