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Experiences create memories for young and old

Christmas break is over and the kids are in, or heading back to school. Slowly but surely, we are working to get out house back into a routine that keeps everyone on a schedule.

But what about all those great gifts the kids just got for Christmas? How do we keep them interested in it, so they don’t just fall into the forgotten abyss of the bedroom?

This year, we really purposed to get our kids stuff that was more than just basic toys. Sure, we dug into the usual hits — Legos, stuffed animals, and video games. But, we teamed up with their Mimi (my mom) to get them experiences.

See, toys are easily used and forgotten. But experiences create memories that shape who they are now, and who they’ll become.

That’s what it’s all about, right? Not just blessing our kids or raising kids with good manners (although those things are important). No, parenting is about impacting their precious formative minds with events, people, and conversations that will mold them into who God created them to be.

Experiences can be a one-time thing or an ongoing process. Maybe you can pool what you would have spent on gifts and put it towards a museum or zoo membership. A family pack of season passes to local amusement parks is a great alternative, too.

Of course for the littler ones, they’ll still want something physical to open and play with, but there are plenty of options out there that can fit just about any budget and a grateful heart.

For us, experiences this year meant lessons. Part of harnessing this is finding out what they excel at and maximizing that. For our kids, this meant learning more in areas they’re gifted at.

We are a very musical family. There’s not a day that goes by that my husband isn’t belting tunes out around the house. We’ve both studied various instruments sang in choral groups and at our church. Of course, the kids have picked up on this — but also they’ve displayed a natural tendency toward music. And just like each of their personalities are unique, each of their musical giftings have appeared that way, too.

Our eldest, who’s 9 now (side note: how do I have a 9-year-old?) began piano lessons about a year ago. He has shown great promise in his skillset. He can sit down and teach himself his favorite songs simply by playing by ear.

This isn’t a completely unique talent — the young musical mind is an amazing thing — but it’s something we don’t want him to lose to as he grows. He played a song on our piano for the family at Christmas this year, and it helped to cement in him a love for this talent. His lessons will continue this year.

Our middle son, who is 6 now, is of course interested in all sorts of music. Singing, piano (although not too much, because that’s his “brother’s thing”), drums — and guitar. We read up on it a lot, and talked to him about it for months and decided the guitar was the best way to go. So he got a nice shiny blue guitar for Christmas, and will be starting lessons soon.

And our little girl, who’s 4 right now, seems to have a great ear for pitch. She can sing on key pretty well (when she tries and isn’t just being a little goofball). But music lessons will come when she’s a bit older. She’s also very flexible, and would benefit from learning the basics of beat and timing. Her little leotard is on the way, and ballet lessons are in her future.

Sometimes kids may feel they’re being shorted in not opening as many presents, but if they’re raised well they’ll be grateful for what they’ve got, and for the experiences headed their way. Our job as parents is ever-growing and expanding to help them become the wonderful little creatures God planned. And we love the experience of watching it all unfold!

Katie Wise is a Fredonia resident.

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