Christmas has always been about family and lots and lots of presents. The neatly stacked, meticulously wrapped gifts waiting under the Christmas tree to be savagely opened in a matter of seconds were the product of Santa lists generated with the help of store catalogs and ingenious, brain-washing ad campaigns. Passing fads like Cabbage Patch dolls were elevated to the level of gotta have at any cost and parents feel the pressure to purchase the “coolest” toy or gadget of the season. And this cycle of “latest and greatest” presents is passed on to future generations programmed to keep up the tradition—Ho!, Ho!, Ho!
Is there a better way to celebrate and make holiday memories that will last way beyond the toys that have lost their appeal or worn out? Hello, daughter. She has always appreciated the “gotta-have” gifts but with her love of family and adventure she created a new gift-giving model that changes the emphasis from toys and gadgets to memorable experiences that became more of a tradition than the old PeeWee Herman doll. She’s all about exploring and new interactive experiences like hiking, skating, horseback riding, ocean kayaking, bicycling the CicLAvia (Los Angeles), riding roller coasters, interactively drumming with Ringo Starr at the Grammy Museum, touring the Hearst Castle and the Will Rogers ranch, visiting the animals at the San Diego and LA zoos, Legoland, visiting movie sets and stars at Universal, and anything else that creates a special memory that doesn’t come from Amazon.
This past Christmas was no exception when our gift experience was a tour of Warner Brothers (WB) Studios. It became one of her most creative and memorable Stephanie great adventure gifts. We hopped on a tour guide driven golf cart and we were off to see amazing displays of movies and movie making. We entered the worlds of stars like Clint, Superman, James Dean, Wonder Woman, were assigned a Harry Potter house by the sorting hat, viewed and touched hundreds of props including JFK’s famous Presidential desk, dozens of chandeliers, old and new phones, and anything else you’ve seen in the WB movies, a Batman car show, and on to the final interactive part of the tour.
The tour was spectacular but the interactive defines my daughter’s idea of what a complete adventure should be. You don’t just sit and watch if there is an opportunity to become part of the action. We sat on the Friends sofa, toured Ellen’s set, and then the “Holy Grail” of the interactive displays, an opportunity to ride the Bat Cycle in front of a green screen and create your own short Batman movie. So, with not much urging, I was nominated to be Batman while my wife and daughter recorded my beyond talentless, but energetic, performance. This is a video of me as the next superhero totally fulfilling my daughter’s mantra of immersing yourself into an adventure and disregarding all self-respect.
We have been gifted all sorts of experiences from my daughter and have tried to return the favor with her family. We still can’t resist finding the latest and greatest cool gift to put under the tree but from all our Christmas’s past we can remember all the cool experience gifts but would be hard pressed to tell you what was under the Christmas tree. Lesson learned! And as an added gift to my daughter, she gets Dad pay back by watching his less than star performances.