What do you get for the person that has everything?
What’s an equally great gift for the person who has next to nothing?
Easy. How about the gift of time?
Last Christmas, an acquaintance of ours gave her children a piece of paper emblazoned with the words, “The Gift of Time.” Each kid got to pick an activity to do with just Mom and Dad. For example, one of the girls elected to go to a theatrical production of RENT.
I guarantee those memories made will last longer than some gadget that could have been gifted instead, destined to be sold at a garage sale sometime down the line. Every time I clean the house, I’m reminded that it would be a whole lot easier if we just had less stuff.
The last few years, we’ve encouraged friends and family to contribute toward experiences for our kids. A number of them pitched in towards private swimming lessons for Lucy. She loves it! She looks forward to her swim time every week, and I can’t believe how much her confidence has grown in the time since she first began. I don’t know of many toys that fit that bill.
Earlier this year, we helped Lucy cross something off her Bucket List: horseback riding. An hour-long stroll through the woods on the back of her favorite animal (besides a cheetah!) really made an impression. Check out her letter to Santa to see what’s on the top of her Christmas list this year.
We live in a society that is stuff rich and time poor. Time is the most valuable thing we have. It’s more in demand than Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo dolls ever were.
Experiences last long after a toy gets broken or outgrown. And the gift of time — the kind that is generous, unrestricted, and free of distraction — is as fitting a present for kids as it is for spouses, parents, neighbors, employees, and the neighbor lady across the street. Babysit for some busy parents so they can enjoy a dinner and a movie NOT rated ‘G.” Take a friend on a surprise adventure that includes a delicious lunch and a spa visit. Join the widow across the street when she walks her dogs and offer company and conversation.
At the end of our lives, we will not spend time taking inventory on all the stuff we collected. No, we will be reflecting on the scenes we created, the experiences that took our breath away, and the memories we made spending time with the people we love.
There’s nothing wrong with giving a meaningful, thoughtful gift that the recipient can hold and treasure. But if you’re stuck trying to find the perfect something for a certain somebody, a little time is all you need.