Though a gift granted to us, life is not a thing we should take for granted. The older I become, the more I understand how precious a gift this life really is. Another year passed, another group of people that will only live on in memories, hearts and photos. Be it friends, family, or family of friends, each time I hear of another life taken away, it’s another reminder that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. That’s why it’s so important that we soak up all the time we do have with those we care for most. Chances are when you lose someone, you don’t look back and remember the things they bought you. You remember the things they taught you, the special moments you shared. Things don’t matter, but people do.
A few years back, my mom got very sick before Thanksgiving and although one to never miss a Black Friday sunrise, reality set in and my priorities shifted. That particular season was about catering to her, helping her recover, and not about finding the best deals and boxes to stack around the Christmas tree. There was nothing my mother needed nor wanted more than to feel better and I realize nothing I put under the tree would make that happen. I decided that instead of buying more “things” for my parents for Christmas, I would invest in memories.
As they get older, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there will come a day, eventually, when we can’t take trips together, when we can’t embark on adventures. With that in mind, the only gift they received that year was a piece of paper – one that detailed the trip we would take together that spring to Savannah, GA. From pictures of our accommodations to an agenda tailored to each of them, though not something they could physically use that Christmas morning, it gave them something to look forward to at a time when my mom would be able to enjoy it. That April we took our trip (yes, ours, because of course I imposed on them). We got to experience a play at one of the oldest theaters in America, rest our heads at Savannah Bed & Breakfast, tour the town on a sightseeing bus, shop the streets while sipping Mojitos and indulge in the most amazing meal at the Olde Pink House. My dad and I even rode in a hearse for a nighttime ghost tour and still to this day laugh hysterically about a woman who chased it down. Those are memories that will last well beyond the time all of us have together.
Following in tradition, this year’s adventure took us to back down I-95 to Charleston, South Carolina. Again we caught a play at the local theater, took a private horse-drawn carriage around town, ate until we were stuffed and walked around a plantation (and the Swamp where Shrek is from)!
While I’ll still get a few small items for under the tree, I see far greater value in spending money on memorable moments. If you’re still trying to find the perfect gift for someone you love, give this approach a try. Don’t buy things just to buy things. Clothes become dated, children grow out of toys, but memories will always remain.