Imparting wisdom, values and unconditional love in equal measure are some of the gifts we receive from grandparents, who often hold a powerful and enduring influence on our development.
So it's not surprising that the gifts that grandparents themselves want to receive this holiday season are ones with meaning, and reflect the resonance they have on children's lives.
For Normand Chartier of Brooklyn, a deep faith and work ethic are some of the gifts he cherishes himself, and he is grateful that his daughter and son-in-law are instilling these qualities in his three grandchildren, two 8-year-old twin girls and a 4-year-old boy.
"Christmas is such a rushed and frenzied time, and the grandkids are hyped up, overstimulated, and overtired, so having quiet, meaningful time with them is difficult at best. This then, would be my wish for a gift from them...that they could give me some long quiet times together to talk and share stories about our own lives with each other," Chartier said.
Some of the stories his grandchildren are particularly rapt over are the ones Chartier shares about their mother, he said.
"The biggest gift I could receive would be knowing absolutely that they will be safe and happy for a long, long time," said Chartier.
One of the magical aspects of having a grandparent is the pride they take in little accomplishments, instilling self-esteem and an eagerness to please in children.
And what better way to gift a grandparent than to allow them to make a child feel special and secure in knowing there is someone who cares deeply?
Getting that phone call throughout the year to hear about the triumphs of her grandchildren is the gift that P.J. Gibble of Old Saybrook said she would most like to receive from her six grandchildren.
"I would like them to get in touch with me when they have good news — I usually get it from their parents," said Gibble, noting that everything from small accomplishments, such as passing their driving test, to larger ones, such as getting accepted into a college, would be reason to call her so she could tell them how proud she was of them.
Phone calls aren't needed for Margo Valentine of Essex. The one grandchild she is close to is like her — not so good on the phone. Instead, Valentine said she would like a letter for Christmas from her 14-year-old grandson, who did ask her what she would like as a present.
"He said, 'oh, wow, that's wonderful,'" Valentine said he responded when she told him she would like a letter.
Recently, Valentine received a birthday card from her grandson, who told her how she made him feel special, and that when he was down on himself, she picked him up.
"I'm writing him every week," Valentine said.
Her family stopped giving presents 10 years ago, and only give out tokens, such as books.
"We all have too much stuff in our possession," she noted.
Like the other grandparents, Mary Jane Haddad of Ledyard isn't asking for anything material from her five grandchildren, who range in ages from 10 to newborn.
"I'm not a very materialistic person — my very best gifts I get are the hugs and smiles when they see me or when I'm leaving," said Haddad.
A creative person who is a board member at the Spirit of Broadway Theater, Haddad said she treasures anything her grandchildren create themselves.
"It's such a wonderful point in life to get to the stage of grandchildren," said Haddad. "First of all, you are so proud of your children — to see how they are bringing up their children. Then to see these children blossom and find their own talents...."
When her granddaughter mastered a piano piece, Haddad recorded it on her iPad.
"It's those fun little things — whatever may be — their accomplishments are so satisfying."
You can click through our local Last Minute Gift Guide for more creative ideas for the holiday, from what to get teachers to how to inspire kids to give back to their community.