I was fascinated to read Robin Abrahams’s essay “When Everyone Has Everything” (Perspective, September 23), in which she struggles to find her comfort zone for buying gifts when many of us truly need nothing. Has Abrahams ever heard of charity? As a parent, I’ve made (weak) attempts to have kids’ birthday parties “no gifts, please” and, among family members at holidays, more successful attempts to agree to send the dollar amount to the recipient’s favorite charity. Why is this so difficult? If there is really nothing that needs to be bought, can we adapt our gift-giving culture to become more benevolent? What does it say about us that we resort to trapeze lessons when we’re out of options for gift-giving instead of helping the poor, the physically and mentally ill, and other disadvantaged groups?
Eric S. Bachman / Swampscott
As a regular reader of Abrahams’s Miss Conduct columns, I was disappointed in her advice regarding the challenges of gift-giving. For my 50th birthday, a friend in her 80s (as I am now) said that instead of giving me a gift that I would have to dust, she was making a gift to the local library, buying a book in my honor. The librarian could do the dusting! It was a lesson I never forgot.
Patricia Squire / Boston
I completely agree with Abrahams. After several years of sorting and purging stuff around my house, I started thinking my friends and family must be doing the same thing. I also gave up on gift cards when I went through a drawer and found gift cards that my children had received and never used. Now I stick mostly to consumable gifts. A few years ago, my family stopped buying gifts for Christmas, opting for a handmade-gift exchange. This has turned into quite the competition. Uncle Bill is known for the all-time favorite, a Tuscan wine bottle lamp.
Jonica Preite / Hopkinton
After just having read Sunday’s “Social Networking for Seniors” (Connections, September 23) by Gary Kaplan, I leapt out of my rocker, located my reading glasses, and grabbed my iPhone. I, too, am a boomer, but one who chooses to participate in the 21st century. Navigating Facebook presented some challenges at first, but I persevered — with a little help from my friends. No, I don’t have hundreds of them, but the ones I do have on Facebook have meaning in my life.
Social networking is yet another way to stay connected, share, and speak out, especially intergenerationally. It does not replace friendships, and I wager there are plenty of “young people” who would take issue with Kaplan as well. I have yet to receive a post about what someone had for breakfast or that someone had just ironed his or her shirt. So my advice for Kaplan is to figure it out. Or not, and go back to the rocker.
Marcia Callahan / Canton
Unlike most of the known world, I do not (and refuse to ever) have a Facebook account or engage in any other form of social media — though I did accidentally sign up for LinkedIn (that’s a story unto itself) and have tried multiple times to unsubscribe, unsuccessfully. Kaplan’s essay made me laugh out loud and was a true joy to read on a Sunday morning when the world is engulfed in very serious and sometimes seemingly cataclysmic events. Thank you, Kaplan, for reminding me that we must especially “find the funny’’ at times such as these.
Sherry M. Lewis-da Ponte / Easton
This essay was so funny without being disparaging about the pitfalls of Facebook. I’m 41 years old and have no desire to join Facebook for the very things the author comments about: 780 friends mean nothing if they are virtual friends and you can’t touch or see them in person. I think these days we care too much about quantity and no longer about quality.
Aviva List / Wellesley
I completely agree. Facebook has made a few old connections for me, but I pay very little attention to it.
Alan Perlman / Rindge, New Hampshire
STANDING ROOM ONLY
In Elizabeth Gehrman’s excellent article “What’s New for Kitchens” (The Guide, September 23), she states that multiple dedicated workstations are the wave of the future for home kitchens. This is a misapplication of a restaurant concept. Multiple restaurant workstations are designed for a crew of cooks, working simultaneously, to produce meals for scores of people (think Hell’s Kitchen). The work triangle is designed for maximum efficiency for a solo cook preparing a family meal. Without it, you walk a marathon just cooking dinner and must remember which mini-fridge is storing what.
Linda Varone / Arlington
I loved “Stooping to Conquer” (Perspective, September 16). I, too, am a penny picker, much to the amazement of my wife and children. I am about the writer’s age and remember going to the candy store, where I also could buy two pieces of candy for the price of one cent. My wife has often said when I’ve grabbed a penny, “How much money do you think you’ve picked up in a year?” I’ve never thought of saving my picked-up money as John L. McCune did. Great idea. I’ve told my wife and kids that it hasn’t mattered how much I’ve picked up; I’ve just felt the urge to get the penny.
Jim Brown / Arlington
Two or three years ago, I was attending the Fisherman’s Festival in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Suddenly this 6- or 7-year-old stopped and bent down in front of me. He then stood up and exclaimed, “I found a nickel!” Since then I have made it a practice to discreetly drop my small change on any sidewalk I happen to be on. I hope another kid finds another nickel.
Doug Bragg / Boothbay, Maine