Giving the Gift of Experience

Chace Anderson
By Chace Anderson September 15, 2013 01:00
gift of experience celeste boyd pix (2) ADJ

McDonald Lake in Glacier National Park

Does he have too many ties to count and too few places to wear them? Does she have more earrings than she either wears or wants? Are there more tools, gizmos and gadgets around the house than you’ll ever use?

Most boomers and seniors have more possessions than they need, and when a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion arrives, they don’t really want more.

Consider giving an experience or adventure instead.

Not many people remember what they received for their birthday two years ago, but if the gift was two tickets to see CATS in San Francisco, you can bet those memories have not faded. With a season pass to a foothills playhouse – from Jackson’s Main Street Theater to Sonora’s Stage 3 Theatre and Sierra Repertory Theatre – you’ll be giving an entire year of memories.

Retired Sonora educator and musician John Dossi, 62, had wanted to see the Texas Tornados, a Grammy-winning Tex-Mex group, for a long time. One Father’s Day, son Guy presented his dad with tickets to the band’s show at Modesto’s State Theater. “It was such a thoughtful gesture on his part,” Dossi remembers. “I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.”

Other music venues include the Willow Creek Lounge at Tuolumne’s Black Oak Casino, Ironstone Vineyards, Jackson Rancheria and Modesto’s Gallo Theater. For those wanting to escape the foothill heat, Bear Valley each year presents a summer music festival.

Heaven for a golfer in your life may be a gift certificate to a course he or she has always wanted to play. Know a baseball fan? Tickets to a Modesto Nuts, Sacramento River Cats, San Francisco Giants or Oakland A’s game may be a welcome treat.

Better yet, give a loved one a pair of tickets to a Giants game in San Diego, Los Angeles or perhaps Colorado. Or A’s tickets in Boston, Seattle or Anaheim (yes, baseball can be combined with a Disneyland visit). During football season, consider gridiron tickets to Stanford, Cal, the 49ers or Raiders games. Or later, an evening with the Golden State Warriors or San Jose Sharks.

For the more adventurous, consider gift certificates for zip-line rides and cave rappelling at Moaning Cavern in Vallecito. A Google search for hot-air balloon rides will yield a number of companies within a three-hour drive.

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Celeste Boyd sight sees over Glacier

Judy Alvarez, 61, a retired food services manager at Soulsbyville School, and husband Richard, 63, often share gifts of adventure. Her favorite was a tandem skydive Richard gave her for Christmas a few years back.

“Unforgettable,” says Judy. “Definitely the best gift I can remember.”

How about a cattle drive? Hunewill Guest Ranch in Bridgeport offers three- to seven-day stays, and in the fall guests can sign on to help drive 600 cattle over five days from Bridgeport to the winter range in Smith Valley, Nevada. Sonoran Julie Giove, 64, her husband Mike, 60, and other family members last year gave Mike’s brother Pete that gift for his birthday. Pete enjoyed it so much he wants to go back.

A quick Internet search reveals similar opportunities for city slickers on ranches in most western states and more than a few foreign locales.

Not only do Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge and Kirkwood offer gift certificates for everything from clothing and food to lift tickets and lessons, but the rates tip heavily in favor of seniors. Lift ticket prices at Bear Valley are only $25 a day for those 65 to 74 and $10 for those 75 and up. A season pass at Bear is just $39 if you’ve passed the three-quarter-century mark. At Dodge, skiing is free for those 82 or older.

Donations in someone’s name are another great gift.

Sonorans June and Bill Tidball, 83 and 86, love to give   presents of donations to Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc., which raises funds in the search for a cure.

“Because this cause is so dear to our hearts,” says June, who has friends with cystic fibrosis, “gift donations are a wonderful way to support it.”

Consider gifts to any of the humane societies in the region, or to Friends of the Animal Community, ReHorse Rescue, Sonora Cat Rescue or other groups working to help abused or neglected animals.

Symbolic animal adoptions are available through the Performing Animal Welfare Society, PAWS, which cares for abused, abandoned and retired captive and performing animals.

Laurel Grindy, 61, of Cedar Ridge, gave her husband, Paul Nixon, 66, the gift of an Asian bull elephant named Nicholas, a retired circus performer.

Nicholas lives at PAWS’ 2,300-acre Ark 2000 sanctuary near San Andreas. Since the “adoption,” Paul has visited and had his picture taken with the elephant.

Other possibilities: Give a massage, haircut, manicure or pedicure. Many assisted-living and long-term care centers have on-site salons that offer gift certificates.

Or consider granting a longtime wish. Sandy Banzet, life enrichment director at Skyline Place Senior Living, often asks residents to participate in the center’s Dandelion Wishes program. A few may long to ride a Harley, but most have simpler wishes that a family member can grant.

A former teacher wanted to sit once more in a grade-school classroom. A woman who had operated a tree farm asked to again plant a seedling. Another resident wanted to attend a symphony rehearsal.

A free birthday concert can even be arranged at assisted-care centers. The Leftovers, a quartet of musicians ranging in age from 71 to 84, will happily come to any daytime birthday party and play big band and country music. Flo Griggs, 81, plays the tambourine, sings and organizes the band’s performances.

No, you don’t have to hit the stores for the perfect present. Avoid gifts that will sit on shelves or hide in closets. Those who have lived a little appreciate the thought, the idea and the experience.

Perhaps the most valuable gift is one that costs nothing and can be given over and over – telling those you love dearly that you do just that.

 Copyright © 2013 Friends and Neighbors Magazine


Chace Anderson
By Chace Anderson September 15, 2013 01:00
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