Most of us love receiving gifts. If you’re like me, you’ve reached the point where you can also truly say, “Giving is better than receiving.” But if I’m honest, I still like something under the tree to open.
However, as we enter this gift-giving season, I’ve been asking myself what gifts have I received that kept on giving? I have shut more doors on fishing poles, broken grills, and worn out sneakers than I care to count. These gifts, though always appreciated, only last a short time. But the memories I made with those gifts last a lifetime.
Those memories are where the true gift lies. My dad didn’t care too much for fishing or outdoorsy activities. Because of this, it is surprising that my brother and I enjoy fishing as much as we do. At one point, we toyed with the idea of turning pro. But I remember the pond Dad took us to fish in where my grandfather once brought us chicken livers for bait and fell into the pond. Another time, my dad bet us he could hit a snake in the head with a rock as it swam across the lake, and he did (the snake continued his journey). It wasn’t the fishing poles we’d received for Christmas that I treasure, but the memories we made with them which was the real gift.
As my girls got older, I wanted to pass on to them these kinds of gifts that create moments. I took them fishing, let them hold snakes, and never missed a swim meet. I remember I was at a pond fishing when my oldest daughter stopped by to visit, picked up my spare rod laying nearby, and began casting away as we continued chatting. These are the truest of gifts that will always keep giving.
As you shop for your gifts this year, especially for the kids, think about what they might do with it. Sure, kids need new shoes and underwear, and toys are fun, but what can you give them that will build a fond memory they can carry for a lifetime?
Better yet, give the gift of a memory in the making. Take the time to let them help you cook the Christmas dinner. Promise them an activity and stick to it. Teach them to smoke a pork butt or build a go-kart. Toys will get broken. Clothes will be outgrown. But it’s the memories we give those around us that will last forever. It’s the memories I have with my grandfather that I’ll tell my grandkids as I make new ones with them to pass on. It’s these memories, these gifts, that are kept long after the fishing pole is gone.