There’s nothing I love more than being on holiday. It doesn’t have to be a long holiday, or even a holiday to anywhere fancy. As long as I’m not at home facing the endless list of things that need to be done, then life is good. Which is why I think ‘giving the gift of an experience’ is a concept I’ve embraced. OK, maybe we’ve gone passed embracing and are now in a serious, long-term relationship.
You see, last year the experiences I gave the kids for their birthdays were fun days out doing something they each loved. Miss 10 went horse-riding, Miss 8 went skiing and Mr 8 had a not-so-great day out at the Monster Slide festival.
This year, I may just have taken it to a whole new level by using the idea of ‘giving presence’ as an excuse for a holiday (or two).
I didn’t see anything wrong with this approach until a well-meaning friend pointed out that I might be setting the bar a bit high – creating an expectation that each year the experiences were going to be bigger and better than the year before. (Apparently when she asked if next years’ birthday experience was going to be a trip to Disneyland, she was trying to make a point rather than offering a suggestion).
Have I gone too far?
This year Miss 11’s birthday experience is a trip to Christchurch to be in the ‘What Now’ studio audience – something that has always been on her wishlist (and a great excuse to visit family there). Mr 9 is having a day out at Splash Planet as part of a family trip to the Hawkes Bay while my bird-loving Miss 9 will either have a behind the scenes penguin experience at the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch or a trip to the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony in the Hawkes Bay. (Yes, I have actually booked both of these experiences and now have the dilemma of working out which one should be her actual birthday present.)
Yes. In hindsight I’ll admit, I may have gone a bit overboard. But here’s why.
Two years ago we were about to sign off on a massive extension and house renovation when the universe decided it had other plans – plans that lead to both husband and I no longer having full time jobs. While the universe didn’t go about all this in a particularly nice way, it perhaps achieved its purpose of pointing out to us the things that are truly important.
We realised that instead of a bigger house we needed to have bigger hearts. Instead of collecting more stuff, we needed to collect moments. And instead of creating beautifully manicured living spaces we should be creating memories with our kids.
So yes, the experiences the kids are getting for their birthdays this year are big and exciting – and with some forward planning they’ll also be affordable. But more importantly, they’ll be more memorable than a toy that will be played with, forgotten about and either broken or off to the charity shop long before the next birthday rolls around.