This past January, as the ho ho hos of the holiday season abruptly transitioned to the ho ho hums of winter, I came across this abandoned television on a walk around the neighborhood. (Sad face added by me.) No doubt this technological marvel was the highlight of some Christmas past, but there it sat on the side of the road, amidst dirty piles of old snow, valueless.
Here’s a what I wrote then:
The beauty of the light from a hundred candles in a darkened church on Christmas Eve, the afternoon spent together covered in flour while baking snickerdoodles, tucking some deliriously excited but exhausted kids into bed after a late night at Grandma’s; these moments that rush by too fast — rudely neglecting to warn us of their importance as they go — are more valuable than a million big screen TVs.
Indeed, the intangible things grow more valuable every passing year. We usually wish we had savored them more when we had the chance. In many ways, this year will be the same as the last: filled with temptations to chase the tangible, as well as thousands of opportunities to seek out, embrace, and savor that which is not.
Now, I’d like to add to my Funko Pop collection and I wouldn’t turn down a KitchenAid mixer, but just as no one on their deathbed ever said they wished they spent more time at the office, no one ever said, “I wish I would have accumulated more stuff!”
But certainly more than a few people have wished they’d taken more family vacations, thrown more parties, undertaken more adventures, or created more memories with the people they loved.
When we spend money on stuff, it usually depreciates in value over time. This year’s must-have Christmas gift is next year’s Goodwill contribution.
However, the money we invest in experiences is different. The memories we make appreciate in value as we get older and loved ones move on. The money we spend on experiences is always a bargain and leaves us with longer lasting feelings of happiness.
This is not really a rant against “stuff.” After all, The Lemonade Stand is filled with goodies that make great gifts, and I can’t wait to see my kids unwrap their treasures on Christmas morning.
This is really a call for mindfulness.
Maybe there are a few instances this year where instead of buying a “thing” for someone you care about, you might consider gifting them an experience of some kind. It could be a simple weekend trip, concert tickets, a nice dinner out, a scholarship for an art class, an evening of bowling, or a visit to a spa for a massage. The possibilities are endless.
My goal is to look for more ways to invest in memories that get more valuable each passing year than accumulating a future ornament for the end of my driveway.
P.S. With the holidays now in full swing, don’t miss the secret ingredient to a stress-free holiday season.