When I traveled with my family as a child, we always made it a point to bring home something to remind us of our journey. I have fond memories of selecting a hand crafted kaleidoscope in a ski village in the Rocky Mountains. I remember the excitement of picking out the perfect dress for my first middle school dance while on a trip to New York City. And a stuffed dog I fell in love with in Minneapolis followed me through high school, college, two semesters abroad, and still resides on my bed.
But in recent years, when seemingly every store has a national presence and every possible item is just "one click" away, there doesn't seem to be much value in making a special purchase in a special place. A family friend quipped that she no longer buys anything while traveling unless it is something she can eat or wear - and I have largely subscribed to her philosophy.
While on a recent trip to New York, however, my husband and I set out on a mission. I had been thinking of purchasing a watch for nearly a year, and it seemed a good opportunity to explore the possibilities. We visited a number of stores, viewing the options and asking questions until I finally found "the one." I asked the salesperson to hold the watch overnight and made arrangements to pick it up the following day.
When our plans changed and we found ourselves unable to make it back to the store before leaving the city, I was disappointed. When I arrived back in D.C., I found a store willing to place the order, but something prevented me from following through. It wasn't until a few days had passed that I realized I wanted more than a watch - I wanted a souvenir. I had found what I wanted in New York, and its origin was as significant as the item itself. So I waited.
On my next visit to New York, I returned to the store and picked up the watch. It was just as I remembered, and even now, weeks later, every time I check the time, I think of New York and smile. I have no plans to start a collection of trinkets on future travel, but I will keep my eyes open for opportunities to bring a piece of a special place home with me - or share it with a loved one.
As you consider the gifts you will give this holiday season, can you find a way to turn a possession into a memory?