I’ve been pretty vocal about my feelings on gifting “stuff” for the last few years- long before it became popular. Having the first grandchild in the family (and great-grandchild) and then growing from one child to three within 5 years, I was able to see the “stuff” accumulate and man oh man, it made my head spin!
I get it, there is nothing like the joy that comes with watching a child open a gift that you chose specifically for them. The way they tear into the paper, the way their whole face becomes filled with joy, the tight hugs from those little arms around your neck. It makes us all feel so wonderful. I do totally understand, believe me.
But let me paint a different picture for you.
A closet with so many toys on the floor that you can’t see the carpet. Toys that are broken, or missing pieces because there are just so many other toys to play with. Stuffed animals EVERYWHERE.
It just got to be more than I was willing to deal with. Tiny pieces everywhere, so many that you begin to forget which toys they go to. Arguments over cleaning up, but how can they clean when there is no more space? My kids were spoiled with toys, taking them away didn’t phase them, because there were always more to play with. It’s exhausting! So this year was the year I stopped hinting and REALLY put my foot down. I think it also helped that this as our first year staying home, not spending the holiday with family. So family wasn’t feeling guilty for not having something under the tree.
Now imagine this.
The money that would have gone towards toys instead went to so much more. It went to memories that we will treasure. It went towards time spent as a family. It went towards something exciting, something cultural and some serious relief of cabin fever that is so common this time of year!
This year, Ada got a sparkly new dress and we all went to see the Nutcracker at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center- in the very front row. I got to watch my kid’s faces light up at the lights, the fancy costumes, the falling snow- got to watch them wide eyed at the orchestra.
We went to see Jurassic World Live Tour and binge on cotton candy and pop corn and see life-size animatronic dinosaurs and amazing pyrotechnics.
We got to stay at my favorite AirBNB in Nashville- The Waverly. Located in the 12th South neighborhood of Nashville- where all of my favorite places to eat are! We had all of our favorite BBQ from Edley’s, we ate gourmet cronuts from Five Daughter’s Bakery and we had tacos and more from my favorite spot, Bartaco. We ended the exciting night curled up on the cozy pull-out at the Waverly, with a big bowl of popcorn watching Home Alone. Jay and I were relaxed, the kids had a blast- and Ada even exclaimed that she loved experience gifts more than toys- imagine that! In the morning, while Jay made the donut run, the kids and I turned on the record player and danced around the spacious Waverly living room.
It was a quick weekend, but it was special and it will hold a place in my memories and my heart for so many years to come. We had a perfect staycation, and I didn’t have to come home and find room to stash more “stuff”. My kid’s toy boxes might not be full, but our hearts are, and that is a much better gift.