Michelle Wagaman, momma, wife, and crafter who appreciates family adventures, sunshine, and setting sail. By day, she’s the Prevention and Public Information Coordinator with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB). She's filling in today while Brandie enjoys snuggling with her new little one.
Did you see the recent headline: “Prince Williams says son was spoiled on birthday?” Um yes, he’s third in line for the throne. Did you expect differently?
But I bet you can relate just as I could. Our children don’t have to be British royalty to be spoiled.
After each Christmas and birthday (or random grandparent visit), I have to find homes for all of this new stuff. I joke about Santa’s Sleigh dumping over in my family room floor.
We recently celebrated “Christmas in July” with the maternal side of my husband’s family. Recognizing that everyone is too spread out for us all to be together in December, my mother in-law set this weekend in motion well in advance of December 25, 2015. 16 adults, seven children (all ages 10 and under), five dogs, and two cats all descended on my in-laws retirement home in West Virginia. Great aunts and uncles, first cousins, second cousins once removed, siblings, parents, everyone was accounted for. We came from Fredericksburg, Atlanta, Nashville, and several cities in Pennsylvania.
We trimmed the tree and enjoyed fresh sugar cakes and galaxy cookies. We feasted on turkey and stuffing. The kids exchanged gifts and the adults participated in the annual white elephant exchange. We went swimming in the lake and rode in the golf cart. We played board games. We told stories. We laughed. Most importantly, we enjoyed being together without the stress of having someplace else to go.
My in-laws started two years ago gifting their children and spouses with experiences over physical presents for Christmas. Last summer we zip lined through the West Virginia tree line. This year we went white water rafting. (Rumor has it that a day of ATV riding is on tap for 2017.) These are adventures that we’d love to do but wouldn’t necessarily spend our own money to make happen. We had a great day on the water together and thankfully no one fell out of our raft. It also made me excited to take our children on these adventures when they are older.
But, I also realized that we don’t have to wait until they are a certain age to gift them with experiences now. I know families who enjoy monthly date nights or daddy-daughter days. The outings don’t have to be extravagant. The goal is to spend valuable time together and make memories. We’re in a great location to make the happen – exploring the river, walking the battlefields, traveling to Richmond or Washington, D.C. – there are endless possibilities available to us, just a short car ride away.
This past January, if you asked my kids about their Christmas break, they’d talk about their time with their cousins and grandparents. The gifts weren’t the first thing they rattled off (and they received some very nice things their mother would never buy; I’m pretty sure a 10 year old doesn’t need a Coach wristlet).
Perhaps you’ll join me in putting some activities into a jar and having the kids select one. Take it a step further and have the kids help you in creating a list of adventures and experiences for the family. I know of some budding philanthropists who request items be donated to the homeless shelter or SPCA in lieu of receiving presents.
I’d love to hear where your creativity and adventures take you.