I’m going through a season in life where gifts have lost their shine. I love and appreciate everything I get, but “stuff” isn’t getting as deeply to my core as it did once. I’m moving out of that. Maybe it’s because of the house – we’ve been buying things and furnishing this house for almost two years, and I’m done! Sure, we could do with a few other bits, but I feel so done with house purchases and it’s transferring over to my receiving of gifts. Frankly, I don’t want them. However, experiences and moments together are calling to me.
Last night, my sisters, mom, and I went out for dinner to celebrate our birthdays which all follow closely together. The idea arose from my inability to come up with gifts for my sisters. I didn’t know what to get them because I didn’t see them enough to keep up with their needs and wants. We’re all adults now and as the first one with a husband and kids, I know all about “busy” and how consuming life is when we’re out in the world. I’m hoping it becomes a tradition for us to make time once a year and do something.
Sitting together around a table with glasses of rosé was lovely. We chose a Spanish restaurant and the food was incredible – to a bunch of foodies, it was a night well spent. We swapped stories about terrible wedding guests and their etiquette faux pas, I talked about my kids whenever possible and they talked about their pet dogs… the usual. I likely won’t see one of my sisters until Christmas, as it typically happens, so I’m glad we opted for a shared experience this year.
My husband and I are doing something similar with our gift exchanges. For Christmas this year we’re going to sit down and plan out one or several trips or events for us to enjoy together as a joint gift. Over the last several years, I’ve received many wonderful presents under the tree – new kitchen handles, a built-in bookcase, a nest of tables, books, jewellery and so on, and I need to pause and enjoy all these beautiful things for a while. However, the one thing I can never have too much of is him. With two little kids between us, we need more time together with fewer distractions. Our first family holiday earlier this year taught us that.
We went to France for a week, stayed in a wonderful campsite in a premium cottage and opted for a half-board package. Due to French air strikes, we had some trouble getting there – nothing we couldn’t handle together. But we were tired and a week just didn’t cut it. We wanted to stay longer and now we want to go back. There’s something about taking a break from routine for too short a time that leaves you a little paralysed but that’s a different conversation.
Everybody thrives with time together, it’s the reason that camping is so popular. It’s the reason we bought a barbecue and a gazebo this month. We can’t fit another trip into our summer, but we can bring the vacation lifestyle home and spend real moments together. Having fun doesn’t need to cost more than it takes to make some s’mores. And our kids love having our full attention at home. Our toddler is blooming – helping me look after my rose bushes and helping Dad start the barbecue. Digging, sweeping, playing, we’re almost always outside doing some little task and she gets involved.
I’ll never get this time back and it’s more valuable than any physical gift. I’m so ready for this next chapter in my life where I lean into connection. For better or worse, it’s shaping my life at the moment.