One year at Christmas time, my parents sat my siblings and I down on the couch and told us that we only had $200 to spend on Christmas. Back then we all thought that was a ton of money! As you know, $200 dollars was not enough to buy us lots of gifts. Maybe one or two. So, my parents thought and thought about what they could do. They came up with something that has been unforgettable. We call them Christmas experiences.
Here’s how it works. You first find out what each of your family members really would like to do. It can be almost anything. For example, my dad wanted to go to the movies. Of course, we did not have a lot of money, so my parents asked around to see if they could find some kind of “movie theater” to go to that they could afford. Lucky for us, my grandparent’s neighbors rent a movie theater each Christmas for their wedding anniversary. They invite all their friends and family to come and see the movie they watched on their first date. They were showing the movie “Scrooge” which happens to be one of my dad’s favorite Christmas movies; definitely not one of my favorites. We went to the movie for free, but my dad treated us to some popcorn out of the $200 Christmas budget. It was a lot of fun to see my dad’s face light up as we watched the movie, even if I was scared half the time.
My older brother wanted to go sledding. But not just normal everyday, small-hill park sledding with our old, plastic disc sleds. He wanted to go real sledding, down a humongous hill with a fancy, long sled. So my parents decided it was finally time to buy one, paying for it out of the Christmas budget. They left the new sled on the front porch and had my brother go and get. He was thrilled to find out that we would be sledding down a popular, ginormous hill later that day! It was a ton of fun and we all enjoyed spending time together, flying down the hill. We even enjoyed walking up the hill because we were doing it together!
My experience was a dream come true. I was Alex Boye’s #1 fan! I listened to all of his music on repeat, and I even had a favorite song. “I am Gold” was my song and I knew all the words. So when I told my mom that I wanted to meet Alex Boye as my Christmas experience, she was a bit worried. How was she going to make that happen? Then she remembered that her childhood family friend had actually married Alex Boye. She bravely contacted her and asked if Alex would be having any concerts this season. Alex’s wife told my mom that there was one concert left, but it was at a high school and it was a little expensive because it was a Christmas fundraiser. My mom took a deep breath and my parents decided to use all the rest of the Christmas money on the tickets. On the night before the concert, my mom’s friend told her that she had added us to the “friends and family” list, so we would not only be seated in their section, but the tickets would be free. This was a huge blessing for our family of six.
On the night of the concert, we all got dressed up and quickly ate dinner. Mom felt that we needed to arrive early, due to a winter storm that was coming. When we walked into the theater, there was no one else there, but Alex Boye was on the stage, warming up by singing my favorite song. I was in shock! Then something else amazing happened! He came over and he talked to me! I was a little scared and shy, but I was over the moon with excitement. It was truly the coolest Christmas present I have ever received!
My little brother loves pizza. He could eat if for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still not get sick of it. For his Christmas experience, that is exactly what we did. Because the concert tickets had been free, my parents decided to treat us to a pizza dinner. But to make it special, we went to the restaurant that my parents worked at as teenagers. They decided to ask their old boss if my little brother could have a small tour of his pizza kitchen. Their old boss agreed. It was a lot of fun to watch my little brother become giddy while watching them make his pizza. When he took a bite of it, his eyes were filled with so much happiness, it made me want to give this kind of joy to him all the time! Before we left, my parents old boss presented my little brother with a coupon for a giant pizza that he could come get another day. He was delighted!
For my mom’s experience, we went to one of our good friend’s houses because she really wanted to go Christmas caroling with chimes. Our friend’s dad was awesome because he had charts to teach us how to use the chimes. My mom was thrilled that she was not in charge and that we could enjoy spending time as family and friends. It was a lot of fun, even if we were a little bit nervous. Afterwards, we enjoyed drinking some delicious cocoa.
As for my little sister, she wanted to go horseback riding, but then she got so sick we couldn’t plan a Christmas experience for her before Christmas. But that’s okay, because Christmas experiences can be used any time that year. After talking to my sister about an inside experience she could choose, she chose to go swimming. Thankfully, our neighborhood recreation center has a really warm, inside pool. When she finally felt well enough, our entire family enjoyed a freezing cold January day at swimming. We loved it and it was just the thing we all needed during the boring month of January.
You might wonder why that Christmas was my favorite. It’s simple! We got to do the things we wanted to do with the people we wanted to do them with. We learned that there is more to Christmas than the gifts. We learned that gifts bring temporary happiness, while memories bring lasting joy. Like my parents always say, “You don’t get to bring your stuff with you when you die, but you do get to bring your life memories.” So what memories do you want to still experience? Merry Christmas!