Above: Keenan and Mary Bliss testing their skills on a slackline.
It's Christmas morning and my niece and nephew are surrounded by a mountain of boxes each methodically wrapped with shimmering Santa covered paper. They sit patiently until they are given the green light to begin shredding the paper to bits. I ease back, take a sip of my coffee and watch as their excitement grows each time they move from one gift to the next. I soon find myself slipping into a state of nostalgia as I attempt to remember the gifts I received when I was their age, I cannot. I wonder "where did all of those end up anyways-oh wait, they've come to my gift!" and my attention is quickly brought back to the morning extravaganza. "From Uncle Cody" they read on the outside of the envelop. "Thank you Uncle Cody" rings out before they even had the chance to evaluate the contents of the package. It is clear at this point that they are excited and admittingly, so am I! For the first time that morning, the pace slows down as they attempt to comprehend their latest gift. They slowly read "one pass to go rock climbing with Uncle Cody" which is followed by a somewhat dull but polite "oh cool." The paper is shoved into the hands of the nearest adult and they continue to shed the layers of the wrapping paper mountain.
Days later I return to their house to pick them up so that they can cash in their voucher to rock climb with their uncle. At this point, their rooms resemble a Christmas gift graveyard with toys scattered in all directions. We spend a wonderful day rock climbing, laughing, being active, learning something new, but more importantly, we spent that day together. We returned to their house where the farewell included two giant bear hugs, ear to ear smiles and finally, the level of excitement from them that was missing that Christmas morning.
Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard once said, "dont buy gear buy plane tickets." As the holiday season approaches once more, I take a look around at my overflowing closets and realize it is not gear or "things" that I need but rather experiences. It is quality time with those I love, it is memories with friends and family, it is adventure and experiences that bring joy into my life. This year, I am choosing less stuff and more memories.
New experiences and unforgettable memories are our favorite gifts to give our friends and family! If you feel the same, check out our 2019 trips or purchase a gift certificate for your loved ones today!