"Give what you have," said Longfellow. "It may be better than you dare to think."
Everyone -- and particularly grandparents -- has something of themselves to give at Christmas time. Besides the treasures of old photographs, love letters, news clippings, there is the wealth of their minds.
The trick is to transform family history into tangible, gift-wrapped form. Some ideas:
Family tree: Start with the family facts you have in your head -- birthdates, places and parents -- and then see how much you can add from other sources. Present it in any form, even as a simple line drawing of a tree, with Christmas balls representing various kin. So what if there are some missing: The recipient can keep on adding. And you just may spark other family members into starting a thorough genealogy search.
Picture History: Dare to present a little packet of old (and album-important) photographs tied together with a red ribbon and a sprig of holly. Write (or print) explanatory captions on the backs, rendering priceless an otherwise worthless picture of someone, somewhere.
Your Voice: Borrow a tape recorder, and let yourself go on the family lore only you know about. One lively octogenarian, whose arthritis precludes writing, filled and presented several cassette tapes with her delightful, informative and sometimes outrageous family vignettes.
She has given not only given a collection of stories and traditions, but also a record of her own speech patterns, valuable in itself.
If you're tempted to devalue such gifts, remember Emerson's declaration.
"The only gift," he put it, "is a portion of thyself."