I have vivid memories of unique experiences in my childhood. Even from when I was as young as 2 years old. Funny that I don’t remember much detail about the day to day from my childhood. Think about your past. What experiences stand out? What memories are the most important and meaningful?
I don’t remember the gifts I got for my birthday or Christmas but I do remember the experiences I shared with people, even when I was very young. My dad was amazing. He was an adventurer and the best example of doing cool things with his family. I remember my dad pulling me behind the boat on a surfboard when I was 2 years old (that was in the late 1970’s, before wake-boarding and wake surfing were a thing). I remember getting on the ski lift for the first time with my dad when I was 5 years old. I remember exactly the skis and boots I was wearing. I remember the lift operator who helped me (his name was Ralph and he had a huge mustache). I could go on forever.
When I was older I also had meaningful experiences. I spent a summer in college studying in Jerusalem and also visited Egypt. Before this experience my dad took me aside and explained that the reason we do things like this is because we can learn things that nobody can teach us. Through unique experiences, ideally shared with others, we form bonds, meaningful relationships, and become better people. I also spent 2 years in Chile as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These experiences were out of the ordinary and are those that I remember and value most deeply. I built our homes with my dad and siblings. We traveled as a family. Not always to far off lands, but also to wonderful places near home. The point was to share experiences together
My most meaningful memories are of experiences outside of my day-to-day routine. Most often these experiences were shared with others. My wife and I try to do the same for our children. We also take time for memorable experiences together. Rather than have Christmas gifts, we try to have an experience together (usually traveling someplace new). We know that they’ll remember those experiences. We’re not against gifts or “things.” But we are trying to ask if the things are necessities and if the things can facilitate experiences. We buy ski equipment because it allows us to have experiences together. Choose experiences not things.
What are your most meaningful memories? I would bet that they are memories of experiences and not things.