Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blanket of Dreams

From the bean of Green Bean.

It is that time again. School has drawn to a close. An entire three months of adventure looms ahead. Of national and state parks. Of hikes and s'mores. Of ghost stories and junk shops.

Yup. All of those with kids are familiar with their siren's call. No matter how green or frugal we try to go, our kids still want that shell turtle from the Philippines. The T-shirt bearing the destination name. The stuffie made in China. The list goes on.

Often, the owners of these souvenir shops are smarter than we. They hawk their wares at entrances, exits, places where they are difficult to avoid.

Well, my bean ain't green for nuthin'. Over the past few years, we've hit on a new tradition that satisfies my children's craving for the new, my bank account's craving for the inexpensive, and my home and my conscience's craving for less stuff.

A blanket of dreams.

For each place we visit, mom and dad will spring for a patch and, for the most part, that's it. This goes for national parks, state parks, zoos, museums, and new cities. My boys now have something to look for instead of anything that catches their eye. We get in, we get out, and we get on with our exploration.

I sew the patches on their blankets when we get home and the blankets take up no more room than any bedding. No new toys to put away or clothes to wash and outgrow.

Yes, this blanket tradition solves many of the dilemmas but I hope, too, that it will provide my children with one more thing. Memories. I hope that, as teens, they will look over their blanket and remember the time the deer stalked through our camp in the middle of dinner. I hope that, as young adults, they'll remember that summer when they ate too many marshmallows and lay, in a fetal position, in front of the campfire, stomach aching. I hope, that as parents, they'll look at their blanket of dreams and share them all with their own children.

Happy summer. May you step lightly on the earth by stepping lightly through those gift shops.

8 comments:

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

What a terrific idea! Solves the "stuff" problem, and creates lasting memories!

Diana said...

I love this tradition! What a great way to teach children to value memories more than "stuff". I wish I had a blanket like that.

Anonymous said...

I was just trying to figure out what to do with a patch from the fire station visit last week. This is perfect! Thank you for this great post!

Frugal, fun & full of memories & traditions!

Condo Blues said...

I love this idea! On family vacations my parents used it as a way to show us that most of the cheap souvenir junk sold in shops was the same doodad you can get anywhere just with a different name printed on it. We were allowed one souvenir but it had to be useful like a t-shirt (cuz kids grow) or mug or unusual (one year my mom bought a hand carved candle we we all enthralled at the demo.) We did the patch thing for awhile - my mom sewed them on our jackets but that got old once we grew out of the jacket and mom had to take the patches off of the old jacket and sew them onto the new jacket. I like the blanket idea better.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

OMG, this is AWESOME. I'm totally going to do this.

The other thing we've done, though not as dedicatedly (is that a word?), is to sew the patches on their school backpacks. Makes it easier to identify theirs in the crowd. But once Coolness Above All kicks in, that might not work any more. This is way better!
--Jenn

Robbie said...

What a great idea! We're going to have to remember this one!

Anonymous said...

Just happened upon your blog and I wanted to say that something we do to remember trips is to look for Christmas ornaments. Every Christmas as we pull out the ornaments we get to remember the vacations we went on during the last year or the years before. Then they get packed away until the next year. We also look for "good quality" ornaments....we have a wood puzzle ornament from Canada that you can take apart and put back together. Just another idea.....

Toni's Treehouse said...

This was such a great idea, I included in my blog's weekly Reading Roundup! (Direct Link http://toniturbeville.typepad.com/tonis_treehouse/2010/07/read.html)

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