The Gift That’s Better Than Dolls, Games, and Electronics

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What’s happening to Thanksgiving?  It’s seems as if the Thanksgiving Holiday is being swallowed up by the Christmas promotions.  Our 7-year-old daughter expressed her concerns just yesterday as we were driving around our city and she noticed the Christmas lights and decorations. She said:

“They just skipped Thanksgiving…what happened to the Turkey decorations?”

Our 5-year-old daughter asked if Christmas was coming faster now.

I told her nice try….but Christmas comes on the same day each year.

A few years back, I had an epiphany.  I was sick and tired of spending too much money that I did not have on things that people really didn’t want.  And so, ever since then, I made it my mission to make all of our holidays memorable experiences.

Last year, for the first time, I cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner. (By the way…I felt really grown up when I did that…lol.)  My girls and I worked in the kitchen all day long cooking and baking and having fun.  We dressed up in our Sunday best and we ate in our formal dining room(it was the first time that we used our formal dining room in the three years that we had been living in our house). This is definitely something that I hope my girls will look forward to doing with their mom for years to come.

But, my absolute favorite holiday tradition is traveling.  Hands down, the best gift that you can give your family over the holidays is the gift of travel.  And here is why:

  • The Gift That’s Better Than Dolls, Games, and Electronics 1 of 7
    Photo Credit: Brokenart
  • You Will Create Memories That Will Last for a Lifetime 2 of 7
    Christmas in Orlando

    I have been a mother for more than 20 years. And, if it is one thing that I know for sure, most Christmas gifts will be long-forgotten by February (and I am being generous here because a lot of them don't make into the new year.) They will be broken, the pieces will be lost, or they will be at the bottom of the toy chest.  But if you give your family the gift of travel…they will be talking about it for years to come.

     

    Picture: In the pool, during our trip to Orlando, Florida, on Christmas Eve 2011.

  • It Does Not Have to Be Expensive 3 of 7
    My Minivan

    With four kids, a husband, and a grandma (as my mother in-law lives with us), it could be very expensive for the seven of us to travel. So, most of our trips are road trips. That's right…we pile into our minivan and we hit the road.  

     

    Picture: Ronnie in her van about to pull off with her crew.

  • Planning Ahead Ensures a Relaxing Vacation. 4 of 7
    Disney Vacation

    I make sure that most of the travel expenses are paid, well in advance.  I look for deals on hotel rooms, attraction tickets, and, even, plane tickets, early in the year.  If you plan ahead of time, the only expenses you will have on your trip will be gas and food.  Your family will have fun…and you will be relaxed knowing that you have not broken the bank to give your family this fabulous gift.

     

    Picture: Ronnie and the girls enjoying Minnie's House.

  • The Travel Is the Gift 5 of 7
    Holiday Trip to Disney

    A few years back, Lamar and I implemented a three-gift rule.  We felt like the kids were getting too much for Christmas, that they really weren't appreciating the gifts, and they weren't playing with all of them anyway. So, with our new rule…they really focus on what they want.  This way we know it is getting used and appreciated. 

    And, when we travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas, the kids know that the trip is one of their gifts.  

     

    Picture: Our holiday trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2009. We left from Maryland where it was snowing and looked forward to warmer weather in Orlando, Florida.

  • It Allows You to Really Connect with Your Family 6 of 7
    Grandma and Kids at Disney

    I absolutely LOVE our family road trips. My kids are such characters.  And our vacation starts from the moment we get into the van until we reach our destination.  We joke, eat, nap, snack, argue (yes…I am not going to pretend we are perfect here), sing, color, play with electronics, enjoy a game of Punch Bug, and more. So the entire time we are on vacation -- from the trip there, to the destination, to the return trip home -- we are enjoying each other.

    And since we live so far from my family, sometimes our trip involves simply going to see grandma and auntie and cousins that are nine hours away. 

     

    Picture: Grandma and the kids at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

  • It’s the Gift that Keeps on Giving 7 of 7
    Hanes_Disney0042

    Even if we don't go away during the holidays, I try to make it a point to hit the holiday attractions in our area.  And since we live near Atlanta, there's plenty to do.  We have yet to check out Snow Mountain in Stone Mountain Park and we haven't been to see the Christmas Lights at Lake Lanier.  There are also various shows and attractions that we can add to our holiday staycation schedule this year.

    Whether you decide to stay in your local area or plan a trip away, I guarantee that your kids will remember the time that you spend together for years to come (plus you can make a photo album to capture the moments).

    Next year, we are planning a one-week Thanksgiving stay at our timeshare.  And since we have two units, we will have plenty of extended family join us, too, which will only add to our holiday memories.

     

    Picture: Our two youngest girls... trust me...they will never forget this trip!

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