At the Women's march

At the Women's march
All Lives Matter

Never Again

Never Again
We Won't Go Back

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I’ve been away from these pages for a few weeks because Mark (Opa) and I went to Croatia and Slovenia, with a brief visit to Bosnia-Herzegovenia. We were away only two weeks, but somehow catching up with work before and afterwards, and getting ready for the trip and re-entry afterwards ate up a lot of time. We saw some beautiful picture-postcard scenes along the Adriatic coast and some very sad reminders of the war in the Balkans during the 1990s. And we met a number of other grandparents – this is, after all, the demographic that has the time and the money to travel.

Even though none of us were with our grandchildren, you could tell that thoughts of them were ever-present. One grandfather looked everywhere for dolls in ethnic costumes for his granddaughters that were “not in plastic cases [the dolls, not the granddaughters] but were real dolls that the girls can drag around with them.” A grandmother stocked up on local postage stamps for her grandson’s collection. Several people hit the computers at the hotel every day to connect with children and grandchildren. And so it went.

We sent postcards to everyone as we always do, letting them know we were thinking of them and giving them a little taste of another country. Then, throughout our twelve days of active sight-seeing I looked for presents that I might bring the grandchildren. I ruled out cheap souvenirs since they all have too much stuff already and don’t need more to clutter up their homes. I ruled out expensive jewelry because I like to shop for good gifts where I know the merchant and can return if there’s any problem. I knew we didn’t need to bring anything, since one of my daughters has said, “Please don’t bring a present every time you come – the children are happy just to see you.” And we weren’t gone any longer than a typical gap between seeing the family.

But I didn’t feel right coming home empty-handed after we had taken such an extensive trip, so I kept looking – and I finally found a solution for the four granddaughters in an unlikely little souvenir shop: little change purses made of handkerchief-linen fringed with lace (for which Croatia is known), with little zippers. Easy to pack, inexpensive, and easy to push to the back of a dresser drawer if the girls don’t want to use them. For our 20-something grandson there was nothing that seemed useful or entertaining enough to bring home. We’ll have to buy him a little something when he comes to visit us this fall.

I wonder how other grandparents feel about bringing souvenirs from trips for grandchildren. A “must,” a “maybe,” or a “forget-about-it”? Let me hear from you.


Nina said...

I would love to see a picture of the little purse you got for your granddaughters.

I'm off the hook for a while since our grandson isn't quite old enough to appreciate a 'souvenir.' One thing that I've thought of is buying a postcard and giving it to grandchildren. A postcard collection does't take up too much space and could also be educational.

Susan Adcox said...

My family and my husband's family have a tradition of bringing back souvenirs from trips, but it dates from the days when people didn't travel much. Now that most people make several trips a year, it isn't very practical to bring back gifts from each one. I used to do it anyway, until my grandchild total hit seven. Their ages range from 4 to 17, so they each need different gifts--no one-size-fits-all. Now it's just too time-consuming to shop for something appropriate for each one. I refuse to spend my vacation time in the shops. If I happen upon something cool, I buy it, but the grandkids know not to expect something every time. Another factor is how our world has gotten smaller. We can buy almost any product from around the world right here in the old USA.

Sally Wendkos Olds said...

Really sensible, Susan. We used to send postcards to all our friends, but we stopped that a long time ago since so many of them had already been to the places we visited. And Nina, I'm about to take a photo of the little purses. Your grandson is too young to appreciate a souvenir -- and ours is too old. For the past few years, we've given him money instead. He always knows what to do with that.

Sally Wendkos Olds said...

Nina, here's the picture of the purses, front and back. All four have slightly different embroidery on the front; all have the little zippers on the back plus the removable label. Since lace is one of the things Croatia is known for, these seemed to fit the bill of something distinctive and local -- without having to buy a huge tablecloth or the like (which they wouldn't know what to do with anyway).

Becky said...

I love you gift ideas - gifts are always a tough thing, but I think people REALLY appreciate the simple little things that they can touch and use each day! Plus, I love postcards and kids LOVE to get mail! :)
Why did you choose this trip? 3 of my grandparents are from Slovenia and I was lucky to go there in 2002 - I think it is the most beautiful region in the world! :)

Nina said...

The purses are beautiful. What a wonderful gift for your granddaughters.

Barbara (Nana) said...

Sally, It was wonderful meeting you and your wonderful family in July while on you "family" vacation. We bring back souvenirs to our grandchildren and children, but never anything expensive - usually just t-shirts. I enjoy out-of-the-sun-time shopping for them, they enjoy wearing them, and we enjoy that. Recently, our son and his new bride gave me a t-shirt from Jamaica upon returning from their honeymoon. I noticed the size was a Medium. He replied, "Mom, it will shrink." I love that young man!