I’ve always prided myself on attempting to make gifts that I give more personal. A bracelet in my sister-in-law’s favorite shade of purple, or a scarf my mom mentioned in passing, months prior to Christmas. A little way of letting them know I listen and I think of them. My way of saying, “you matter.” “I care.” But as I’ve gotten older, the gifts, although still personal, have often taken on a different element as well. And the focus has shifted to include experiences over something tangible. And it has been awesome.
Dance classes for my sister’s bridal shower. A Christmas Eve, Jets versus Giants rivalry football game for all the boys in the family. That being said, I have given my dad a tie before and I know I will again. But the experience bit, when do-able, is well, again, just awesome.
Most are planned far in advance, some as the event is announced, but knowing that your brother happily sifted through drawers to find every green article of clothing or team gear he’s collected for years, picturing your dad cheering as loud as the group of teenagers seated in the row beside him, hearing your brother-in-law’s laugh at a good play, or a lucky one, and having your husband recount the day well after the Christmas Eve game takes place, is icing on the cake. Icing on the cake and memories. Because the true gift is the fact that I was able to give them memories.
As for my sister…not only was her and my brother-in-law’s first dance as a married couple beautiful and fluent, but it was the few nights a week leading up to the wedding that was every bit as important. The hustle of checking off to-do lists and the pleasure that turns into chore of picking out a DJ, and a photographer, and flowers has its downsides, too. They fill up otherwise free time in the calendar of life to spend with the person that is the reason you are planning all of this in the first place. So, when they made the 20 minute drive to class, when they stood close enough to kiss in a room full of strangers, when they stepped clumsily, but together, I gave them time. And after all, those are two of the most important things we can have. In a day where memories are savored and time is precious and often fleeting, experience is a gift that keeps giving.