As I sit here on this beautiful Labor Day weekend relaxing after cleaning house, picking up after Tropical Storm Hermine, and cleaning out stuff, I have done a lot of thinking about my childhood. Children today experience their childhood so much differently than I did growing up. We made our own games and had fun outside, we didn't have to be entertained by a "thing".
What do I mean? Well, most of my childhood memories revolve around going places with my family or playing outside with my friends. I remember having a few toys that I loved, (I will NEVER forgive my sister for tearing off the top part of my Baby Tender Love's head, sorry Jen), but, it's the experiences that have stayed with me. These experiences include traveling to visit my Grandparents each year in Florida during the winter, going to Holland, Michigan, visiting Niagara Falls, camping at Fair Haven/Indian Falls, and visiting Gettysburg and Hershey, Pennsylvania just to name a few. So, why is it that I remember these? I had the opportunity to be fully immersed in each location. My parents tried to do everything at each place all in one trip, but sometimes, we had to go back to continue our adventure. Those were some exciting vacations.
As I look back, I know I had birthday parties and great Christmases, especially the one my mom worked at Johnny Jo Toy Store, but I don't remember what I was given. I can guarantee at least once in my life I told my mother "I'll just die if I don't get...", but now I couldn't tell you what I threw that temper tantrum for.. However, I do remember asking my parents to travel to Spain one summer as an exchange student. I knew how expensive it was, but I volunteered to help raise the money. It was not a trip that my parents could just write a check and I was off to Europe, they had to work extra to send me. My parents could have said, "No, we don't have the money right now. Let's wait until we do." But, they knew that this trip would open up so many opportunities for me and they made sacrifices. Sometimes if we wait until the "right" time, that time never comes again.
I am guilty of buying the latest fashions or tech gizmo for my daughter, because she "HAS TO HAVE IT!" I remind her that the "it" thing right now will gone in a few months, if it takes that long. She's not going to remember when she got an iPhone, but she will remember the Mother/Daughter trips we have taken. We've made great memories and she continually asks, "When are we going to do that again?" See teenagers do like to hang out with their parents! I have learned that life is too short and we have to take advantage of the time we have together. We are not promised tomorrow! Too many people close to me have lost a loved one for one reason or another, I bet they wished to have one last trip or vacation with that person. I decided this year instead of getting my Mom presents for her 70th birthday and Christmas, I was taking her on a trip. Why? She really doesn't need one more thing to dust, and it's about spending quality time together, making those memories. Will she be sad not to open a present, maybe, but she will have those memories to cherish. That's a present that keeps on giving each and every day.
So, if you're thinking of buying something material for your child, ask yourself this, "I know he/she really wants it, but will this be a lasting memory?" Give a trip for a gift, not only will your child be excited to open it, but the excitement will continue to build as the trip approaches. And as for the material items, there are some things from your childhood that you will remember, but many you won't. Jen, don't worry, I found a Baby Tender Love on eBay right before V was born, so she got to play with her, even if it wasn't mine.