Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

An Unconventional Gift Idea for Parents: The Old Neighborhood Reunion

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You know the feeling. You’re overburdened with too much stuff. You’ve accumulated things that no longer serve a purpose. And then your birthday rolls around, and well-meaning people give you more stuff. Fast forward 30-plus years. Now you feel for certain that there is nothing more that you need or want. You are finished with accumulating stuff, time to think more unconventional.


This is the stage in life where your parents may be now. They tell you that they have everything they need in life. There’s nothing more to buy that they do not already have. But you are compelled to want to do something special for them. If you find yourself in this situation, I may have the answer.


Take Mom or Dad back to their old neighborhoods — where they spent their childhood or perhaps where they lived when they raised you.


Several years ago, my sisters and I drove Mom to her old neighborhood where she was a young wife and mother, raising five children (me and my siblings).  We also arranged a lunch for Mom and her former close neighbor, as well as our childhood friends. All of us together again after 40 years!


Where I grew up, we coexisted with neighbors that included ten couples and twenty-two children.  On a typical day, adults and children interacted in full force. We were in and out of each other’s homes all day long (doors were never locked during the day). We children went to school together. Parents partied together. We had birthday parties. We played baseball in the street all summer long. Our parents never worried about us. We never strayed far. The old neighborhood was one big extended family sharing the ups and downs of life.  


Arranging Mom’s lunch with her neighbor was not easy – the process took about six months – there were busy schedules to contend with; but the day finally arrived. We all met at a popular Italian restaurant in the old neighborhood.  Two adults (Mom and her friend, Sue) and seven children gathered together to share memories good and bad. Many of us brought photo albums to share of times gone by. We toasted those who are no longer with us. It was a bittersweet experience.


To this day, Mom talks about how this reunion gift was one of the highlights of her old age. Mission accomplished.
Sadly, by the time we thought of hosting this reunion, many of the other neighbors had already died. I wish I had thought of this idea sooner, which is why I am sharing it with you today. If going back to the old neighborhood would please your parents, I sincerely hope you take the time to make this happen for them sooner rather than later.

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