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Now ... what do I get the grandchildren for Christmas?

Jasna Jovanovic does some last minute holiday shopping at Whiz Kids toy store in San Luis Obispo.
Jasna Jovanovic does some last minute holiday shopping at Whiz Kids toy store in San Luis Obispo. Tribune file photo

This is the time of year when panic begins to gnaw its way into my consciousness.

The reason? Buying gifts for grandchildren. My adult children and I decided years ago not to buy for each other, so that is not an issue.

But the stress of buying gifts for grandchildren is twofold.

First of all, when I enter a large toy store I see lots of things I’d love to have. In the past, with my late wife accompanying me on the shopping trip, she would say, “Kids don’t play with those anymore.”

“Then why are the shelves full of this stuff?” I bravely would ask.

I’d love to buy my grandson a cool-looking pair of six shooters with pearl handles and fake bullets in the gun belt. But I don’t think any of my grandchildren have ever played cowboys and Indians. I lusted so for one such set of cap guns and found them under the tree for me (from my wife) several years ago.

I bought one of those soft pellet guns, kind of like a BB gun, several years ago. I learned later that the neighborhood boys were actually shooting them at each other, and all activity was halted when one child shot the other one in the eye.

What makes it so difficult is the cultural gap. I especially can’t keep up with the electronic stuff.

I really don’t want to encourage my grandchildren to have too much of something they can sit around on the couch and use anyway, unless it is a book. For many years I was able to make birthday and Christmas gifts — a wagon, barns for their plastic horses and even tiny tables and chairs for those 20-inch-tall dolls that are so popular right now.

The younger children are easy. It is when they get to the preteen age that finding just the right gift becomes almost impossible.

The second thing that makes it difficult to buy for my grandchildren is that kids get toys all year long. Often, I’ll call my daughters because I found what I thought would make a great gift only to learn the child got it last August. When I was growing up, and even with my own children, toys generally came only for birthdays and Christmas.

Last year I learned about gift cards that can be used for music and video game devices. That makes it easy. And then there is always folding money.

Come to think of it, it is getting easier and easier. The only problem left for me is that I love to wrap Christmas presents. I’ve done all the wrapping for 40 years. How do you wrap a gift card?

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or