For Chris, choosing gifts is like writing a story: By matching the character to the gift, you learn more about people and what they value.
A couple of years ago, I gave a 90 year old female friend of the family a necklace. As you can imagine, this was a risky thing to do, because it depended so much on her tastes, and her lifestyle was far more luxurious (read, high-budget) than mine. I was saved by the fact that, as a former jewelry designer, I had a stash of great gifts in my closet. So for her ninetieth birthday, I presented her with three necklaces I had made myself and asked her to choose the one she wanted. She delightedly chose a freshwater pearl piece with a teardrop-shaped blister pearl. I am sad to say we lost her within the year. She wasn't exactly a morose individual - anything but! - but I still get a good feeling about being able to make her happy that day. Well, at least she didn't look at me reprovingly and say, "You shouldn't have!"
I understand that not everyone has a ready stash of stuff ready for giveaway, though, and figuring out the right gifts for a wife, grandma, family member, or friend who's about to reach 90 years of age can make you want to bang your head against a wall. I know this because I've always had a kind of affinity for elderly folks. Though my own nuclear family was small, my paternal grandparents had a wide family and friendship circle, and talking with them always gave me a cool paradigm shift. There were times I wanted to give back to them. And boy, did I struggle. It was their fault! They were not materialistic. They thought of themselves as providers. They were not used to being in the position of receiver. Especially - most especially - my grandmother.
90th Birthday Gifts for Her - Biographies
Grandma was a reader; she hated to give up most of her library when she and Grandpa moved from the house to the condo after Grandpa retired. I didn't know about this book at the time, but if I had, I'd have snatched it up and she'd have loved it. If she still has her eyesight intact and enjoys the pleasure of reading, try this one on your about-to-turn-90 lady:
Rhoda: Her First Ninety Years: A Memoir is an amazing book written by a woman who grew up in the Depression era. She tells her story of growing up in Chicago and living in San Francisco, of her careers in journalism, teaching, and fashion design, of living in China and Korea. Her life, which seems to capture the changes of the 20th century, will take a 90 year old woman back over the ever-lengthening story of her own life.
Other books perfect as a gift include:
- And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II, a stunning historical study of female Greatest Generation participants in World War II
- Getting a Jump on Life: 90 Years of Flying in the Face of Obstacles, Overcoming Hardships and Making My Own Way, the story of a female skydiver, nurse, and mother
- Let's Face It: Ninety Years of Living, Loving and Learning by Kirk Douglas
- Looking Back 90 Years: True Experiences, the story of a man who grew up in the Roaring Twenties and was a war veteran.
Nostalgia Gifts for Women Age 90
Make your 90-year-old grandmother, wife, or friend a gift basket or gift hamper. If you're lost as to what to include, try this combo:
- 90th birthday candle
- Photo album (digital if she's that up on things)
- Old-fashioned bulk candies (for the sake of her teeth, choose those you can suck on, rather than chew)
- Soft, rich crackers and cheese.
Or watch her face light up when you give her a truly great book about the Roaring 20's, her decade of birth. I can vouch for this book, as I read the book with avid interest and found the style picturesque and the recounting of events fascinating. It's called Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s is an entertaining account of the post-World War I period that begins with a detailed account of a day in the life of a "moderately well-to-do young couple" just after the Armistice of 1918. If her eyesight is still good, she'll love reading this on her own and remembering a time gone by - or her grandchildren, children or other relatives can spend quality time with her reading to her and sharing in the nostalgic memories. There's also a sequel, if you're interested...
Remember how you feel when you hear music from your youth? You can also get her a music CD of dance music from the 1920s and 1930s, which can be played at the birthday party as well.
My grandmother passed away at age ninety, just short of her ninety-first birthday. She had a fabulous sense of humor and always loved writing poetry, usually with a mischievous, humorous bent, and many of my memories of her are of seeing her face alight with laughter. If the woman you're buying for has a healthy sense of humor, you have some great options for presents.
Other 90th Birthday Gifts for a Woman
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