Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Gift of An Experience

For years now we've encouraged our family to give the kids an 'experience' instead of a toy or game when it comes to birthdays and holidays.

For their 10th birthday the twins were lucky enough to be taken to 'The Secret Garden' at The Royal Alex by their Aunt Sharon and their two young cousins. They loved it and are trying to persuade us to take them to an encore performance.

Today they were thrilled to put on their best clothes to attend 'Billy Elliot' at the Canon with their Saba and Safta. Emily has been keeping the secret from Zachary all week that they'll be watching the show from box seats!

We took them to see 'Billy Elliot' in the West End several years ago. Unfortunately, they were too young and too jet lagged to really enjoy it but they have retained vivid memories of the evening. I can't wait to hear their impressions of today's outing.

For past presents they've been taken to musicals, plays, African Lion Safari, restaurants, soccer games, movies and much more.

The experience is enriching for everyone involved. The kids get to spend quality time with relatives they usually only see as part of a group, and get to an event they might not have enjoyed otherwise, and the parents get to spend a little quality time without them. Win win for everyone.

I do sometimes wish somebody was offering me one of these life enriching 'experiences' a little more often.

Guess I'd better start dropping hints about what I'd like for my birthday.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Junkman's Granddaughter

I told myself I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. When people told me I was spoiled I would say that my parents weren't to blame, I spoil myself! My family's life in the nice home I grew up in started as the life of landlords of a rooming house. The big old house was divided into smaller apartments. I think my parents and my eldest brother just occupied what would eventually become our dining room. As the family's fortunes improved rooms stopped being available to boarders and were filled up by our growing family. We had taken over the whole house by the time I came along. All that was left of the boarders were my father's stories of the enormous German Shepherds (or were they St Bernards) who had shared the basement with some long ago tenant.

The luxurious nicknacks I was accustomed to having around the house were purchased at auction houses. My parents weren't presented with any family heirlooms and they didn't register for china when they got married. Still, they managed to accumulate beautiful silver and china, paintings and other treasures in their almost six decades together. My sister's piano was rescued from a fire and refurbished. Treasures that broke were mended by my dad by his seemingly inexhaustible supply of superglue. The cracked and threadbare were pressed into years of service.

The Pomegranate Guild challenged us to create an object to grace the dining table. We were required to incorporate some aspect of family history. How fortunate I am to have one of my mother's silver spoons, now tarnished and worn and coated in glue from some mysterious and long forgotten Mr. Fix It project of my dad's. As I thought about using it I decided it would make an ideal handle for a tea cosy, in honour of my granny who always made me the most delicious sweet milk tea. But a regular quilted tea cosy was too pedestrian for my purpose.

As I walked up the hill after a day of errands I realized with a shock that I had held onto the baby blanket that my grandmother had knitted for me. I had also held on to the anger and frustration that I felt about it having been shrunk in the wash after my mother gave it to my niece. "How could she have given away My Baby Blanket?" I had ranted. "How could anyone have been so careless as to shrink My Baby Blanket" I had raved.

Two and a half decades later I am delighted to think that my beloved niece was swaddled in the same blanket as I was. A blanket that was knit with love by her great grandmother in hopes that she was creating a family heirloom. I chuckle at the thought of whoever washed the poor thing and pulled it out of the dryer several sizes smaller than when it went in. I sure wouldn't have wanted to be the one to have to tell my mother in law what I'd done!

Now the spoon and the blanket will warm my tea. I will remember to hold all of these memories of family and home in my heart and remember that we all can use a little Tea and Sympathy.

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