Maybe I was wrong. Maybe they were too young to understand there wouldn’t be a play station or a motorized Barbie car or a play kitchen with a microwave that lit up and an oven that “really bakes” under the Christmas tree.
The Mister had military orders to Portsmouth, England and I had “orders” to pack up the house and sort through everything we owned. The stress of an overseas move, compounded by the usual holiday stress had me on the hairy edge of sanity. I sorted through every cupboard, closet and drawer, calculated weight ratios and wondered what I needed to make the next place “home.” The kids sorted through their toys and treasures and made similar decisions. We filled box after box and piled them around the half decorated house. I dragged the “give away” boxes through the snow to the car and popped the trunk.
I almost cried. The trunk was completely filled with Christmas presents, half wrapped and hidden from the children. I dragged the boxes back to the house, I calculated the value of each box, factored in the time and energy expended to acquire, sort and pack it all and made a decision.
From that point on, our daughters received the usual thoughtful, lovely, exciting gifts from their grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles for every celebration. From us, they got an envelope.
Vintage family photo…a day out in our new country. Sorry, kids!
The contents of the envelope varied throughout the years, but always held two things…the promise of our time and the possibility of an “adventure.” When they were little, the adventure might be “a day trip to the City with Mom”, tickets to a show and afternoon tea, a make-your-own pottery day or an afternoon of “whatever you choose (even if it means that vampire movie).” As my nieces and nephews got older, they received envelopes as well…a cooking class for the budding chef, a passport and a guidebook, a trip with our family (poor things).
The Mister’s birthday present…a fly fishing lesson. Fish cleaning not included.
The NYC Christmas present…the New Year’s Eve midnight run. I never said they were all good ideas. -1F wind chill.
Stockings are hung by the chimney with care every Christmas Eve. The occasional pair of wished-for boots make their way under the tree. When I feel guilty about our decision, I find that picture of my girls, all grins and pigtails at the Tower of London, have a rummage through my pile of tattered tickets and eat ice cream from a lumpy, hand-painted bowl, my proof that happy memories are the best gift of all.
Graduation trip with the cousin…
My Christmas idea from last year….a nice follow-up to my disastrous Christmas morning plan.
So, if you spent your morning like I did perusing the online gift guides, tamping down that growing seasonal panic, stop. Consider giving your children, parents, relatives, and friends an envelope with the gift of your uninterrupted, work-free, cellphone free time. And an adventure.
Update 12/15 Design Sponge had a great post this morning that outlined a few gift ideas in line with giving experiences and adventures. You can read it here .
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