Giving gifts that last a lifetime

For a long time, I bought into the concept of acquiring, upgrading and maintaining things/possessions for my family. House, car, furnishings, books (my one weakness), toys, clothes, stuff, stuff, stuff. After all, these things are real. Tangible. They last. Unlike activities and experiences which are fleeting and then forgotten. Or are they?

I’m coming to a different perspective. Stuff requires work. It soon owns us. It (mostly) does not give us joy and fulfillment. It’s just stuff. Experiences are where it’s at. This is challenging for me.

A few days ago, I took James and Noah to Six Flags Magic Mountain. We had participated in their Read to Succeed program (details at end of post) so our cost for the trip was only time and gas to get there. This is my kind of deal. I love frugal, inexpensive, thrifty, cheap and FREE. We had a fun day experiencing the various attractions. During a slow moment, when we were having a snack, the boys noticed a sign for a carnival type attraction. A hit the button with a large hammer, try to ring the bell type attraction. A $5 per play attraction!

FIVE DOLLARS!!! That, to me, is crazy. I know, it’s an amusement park. I should expect such ridiculous prices, but I just can’t get over it. But I saw that, since this was in a kiddie section of the park, the sign said every play was guaranteed a prize. The display of prizes was there. Stuffed animals, capes, etc. Nothing worth $5, believe me.

I was just about to say, “Let’s move on,” when a strange thought entered my head. While the capes other prizes were certainly not worth $5, the EXPERIENCE for my boys of ringing the bell and scoring a cape, would very well be worth $5. Well worth it. I opened my wallet and handed each boy 5 bucks.

They took the money and excitedly ran over to take their turn ringing the bell. They each scored a batman cape. The capes are nothing significant. I’ve made them much nicer capes myself in the past, but they will never forget this experience. This is the kind of thing kids remember and tell their own kids about.

I know.

When I was a small child, my dad worked in a grocery store. One day I accompanied him to the store where he worked. I don’t know the reason he had to stop by, but he wasn’t working. Outside the store there was a small merry-go-round ride. The kind you feed a quarter and it runs for 3 minutes. My dad stopped for the 3 minutes. He splurged the quarter. He let me ride. I was over the moon with happiness. And I have never forgotten it. Most toys I had as a kid are long gone, but that 25 cents was well spent on a pleasant memory for me.

I’m learning. I’m slowly learning to alter my sense of value to include the intangible aspects. Those of joy, excitement, pleasure, gratitude and other human emotions that are the stuff of memories. Memories last. They bring comfort and joy LONG after any money has been spent to obtain them.

The Read to Succeed program is open to teachers for their students, and home school parents for their kids:

Register at the Read to Succeed website.

Keep a log of books/hours your students read.

When they have read 6 or more hours, enter the hours read under each student’s name in the student section.

The deadline for updating your students’ records is usually in March.

Tickets are mailed a month or two later, and are good for about 10 weeks in the summer months.

Home school parents get a FREE ticket along with the students.


Filed under Children, Home

2 Responses to Giving gifts that last a lifetime


    I love this!

  2. Ruth Brooks

    I’m learning this, too, Chris! We went cross country on a road trip last summer, renting an RV from friends, and spent a painful amount of money (this was for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary celebration), but the memories we made together are simply priceless! I am SO thankful we splurged and did it. You really can’t put a price on creating experiences that will stay with us forever!

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