This has been started and stopped, edited and adapted, and scrapped and recycled more times than anything I’ve written. It was started when the world was “normal”-then COVID-19 sent us scrambling to adapt to an invisible global danger. As I write this, a few states in the US have attempted rushed re-openings and are paying a terrible price. This pandemic is NOT behind us, and any lack of diligence WILL be deadly. I’m confident this long-postponed message will still be relevant one day, but patience will be required a while longer. Wear a mask and remember; this too shall pass.
PrettyWife and I are blessed with healthy families, good genes. Our parents are still young(ish), comfortably retired, and financially secure enough to enjoy nearly anything they might like to do. My folks travel the world, while PrettyWife’s prefer pursuits closer to home. Family is a priority for all of us, and, as grandparents, our parents are remarkably generous with their time and resource. But their children are still far from retirement, and the grandchildren have grown and are moving on with their own lives. A large reason for frequent get-togethers through the years has disappeared with childhood- but provided an idea and a new opportunity.
When one’s parents have reached the point of having all they really need or want, gift-giving becomes… challenging. But one thing money can’t buy, shopping can’t provide, and no search can find, is time. Not time of the “extra days of life” variety, but the “time enjoyed together” type. So PrettyWife and I decided our gift-giving is going to be unique days spent with the ‘rents and any of our kids who can join us. So far, We’ve been blown away by how great the experiences have been!
We try to listen for hints throughout the year for places to go. For instance, my folks loved visiting the Louvre, but had not visited the renovated and expanded Cleveland Museum of Art. A winter day in the museum, a crisp walk around University Circle, and dinner at a new restaurant made for a perfect day of catching up. Even if weather had been than perfect, they had “curbside limo-service” (me) for an indoor attraction.
My In-Laws enjoy casinos and a bit of low-dollar gambling. They mentioned an article I had written on a horse racing track in Erie PA sounded fun- and another gift was planned. Transportation (me, again), dinner overlooking the track, and their opening bets were covered. We also lucked out with a perfect summer evening- and a wonderful time was had by all. It seemed we were on to something!
Ideas for destinations don’t all come easy, and the logistics can be trying- but the time has been worth it. We try to give the day a bit of a theme, like a train ornament as a hint for a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, ending with dinner at a RR depot restaurant. Railroads, casinos, museums, and cheese barns have been destinations, and we hope for many more in the future. Our folks seem to genuinely enjoy doing something with us, instead of just getting something from us.
Picking destinations, think of places you think your folks might like, or, better yet, places they’ve mentioned wanting to go. This is for them, not you- and even if it’s not a destination you would choose, you’ll have a good time anyway. Remember though; the destination, no matter how entertaining, is almost incidental. Time spent together, the company and conversations, are what make the gift memorable. And in the end, isn’t a life well lived all about love and memories?
Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global, helping your neighbors (at a proper distance, of course), and rolling safe- and wear a mask! Hope to see you on the road on the other side!