What do you get kids these days for gifts?
I've played the, "let's try and be the coolest aunt and somehow produce that elusive, all the kids want it, gift"... or the nice piece of jewelry to try and instill appreciation and value... I've even tried the "experience" of a water park or hike to see the majestic wonders of the world... and it seems kids these days would rather have video games and movies - at least until they've learned every line or mastered every level.
Kids are hard to please, so I've stopped trying to construct what it is that will make them happy and decided to give them what I want to give them.
I didn't get a choice as a kid.
Christmas "lists" or Birthday "lists" didn't exist. You got what you got. If that meant new socks, or just a card, or newspaper clippings from your aunt who thought you'd enjoy them... - you smiled and appreciated that someone thought of you. Gifts were gifts... not requests.
Well... my nieces first communion is soon and as her Godmother I will be flying home to Iowa to be there and of course I like giving gifts, and my first knee jerk reaction was that since it's not quite June 1st yet, I was going to be pressured to get her something "new" because kids are hard to please. And then - inspiration struck.
Standing in the toy section at the ARC thrift store I saw puzzles. Lots of puzzles. 1,000 piece puzzles, 10 piece puzzles. When was the last time you did a puzzle?? Maybe you're a puzzle person, but I haven't done very many puzzles and I certainly haven't done one recently, but I like puzzles.
I decided I needed a puzzle. Someone told me recently I don't have enough "hobbies". So we're giving puzzles a shot.
Then it hit me. I saw a really pretty Alice in Wonderland puzzle that has a lot of pinks and purples, just like my nieces bedroom and I thought maybe she'd enjoy putting it together with me while I was home and then we could frame it and put it in her room...
But I wanted it to mean more.
So I ran home and put the puzzle together, flipped it over and wrote a message to her on the back. Then, I took it all apart and put it back in the box and wrapped it up. Now, she HAS to put it together in order to get the secret message!
I could have stopped there, but as I mentioned I also bought one of these $2 puzzles for myself.
The 1,000 piece kind...
It made me think.
As I opened the box it smelled like a campfire.
Not smoke, like cigarettes, but a campfire. I imagined the people who had it last, sitting at their cabin on the lake (just like the picture) putting away their cell phones, and their computers, TV's, video games, and putting a puzzle together.... together.
I liked imagining that setting. The conversations that probably took place as they ate popcorn, or drank wine, and everybody mindlessly enjoyed a simple pleasure of a puzzle, with the complex pleasures that each person added to that table. The camaraderie and competition and fun they had, made me want to share this puzzle again.
When I was in Kindergarten my mom ripped down the wallpaper in our basement and to our surprise the people who had put the wallpaper up about 10 years before had written on the walls. The messages were about what was going on the world at the time, how much gas prices were, and a little about themselves, where they were from and what they liked to do. It was so interesting and unexpected. We left messages of our own just in case someone wanted to tear down our wallpaper someday too!
As I unloaded that puzzle I thought... what if I put this puzzle together, flipped it over and wrote a little message in one corner... then, donated it to another thrift store (best case scenario in another city or state in my travels) and it could be like one of those dollar bills you can check online to see where it's been...
Or maybe I should leave a riddle or a "puzzle" for the next person to figure out, and then they can leave one for the next person!
My dad used to write riddles in my lunch as a kid - addressed to our lunch table he called "the lunch bunch" We loved it!
Anyway. I'm going to give it a shot.
It might take a little while to get the thing together, but I'm going to do my best, leave a message or a 'puzzle', and like the movie Serendipity.... send it out to the world, and see what comes back.
And to think it's all because I decided to pick up a hobby... and couldn't buy anything new :)