My husband and I traveled occasionally when our children were young, and we discovered that finding a gift that a child would enjoy and at the same time have some correlation to the place we visited, was a challenge. As our children grew older, gift buying became such a burden in time and stress that we stopped filling our travel time with shopping.
Now that we have grandchildren, it is pleasant once again to take the little ones home a gift. There is just nothing quite as enjoyable, after getting a welcome home hug from a child who has truly missed you, than to pull out a surprise. One day, however, it occurred to me that once I gave a grandchild a gift, the experience was over. Unless it was something to wear, I never saw the surprise again, and I didn’t know if the gift was used or tucked away in a drawer and forgotten.
On one trip, I purchased a colorful, four-sided wooden puzzle to keep at our home and pull out when the grandchildren visited. Since the puzzle is quite challenging, my grandchildren needed my assistance to complete it. We have spent many hours playing with that one, simple gift. Since that time, my gift purchases have changed. Instead of buying a gift for our expanding number of grandchildren, I look for items that we can enjoy together.
My latest souvenir purchase was from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. When I saw the simple air pump with bright colored “rocket” balloons, I knew it was the perfect take home item for grandma. My grandchildren, who range from two to eight years of age, and I have had hours of pleasure blowing up the “rockets” and then watching their wildly unrestricted flights around the house. There has been an added bonus besides plain fun (although that would be enough to make my gift a success). Since my interest in the space program was piqued by my space center visit, and my grandchildren’s interest was piqued by the balloon “rockets”, we have been able to share additional time exploring and learning about space. I was surprised that Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon wasn’t part of their knowledge, since those first steps beamed from space are so firmly ingrained in my memory. Now, that amazing event is one more of our shared memories.
Taking home souvenirs has once again become a fun part of traveling. Possibilities are as varied as the places to visit, and even though my grandchildren miss me when I’m gone, we all look forward to our time together to enjoy the mementos of my travels.