When I was a teenager, my father left home and his gifts became more expensive. The first year he gave me a suitcase with gifts inside.
Another year, he enrolled me in a scuba diving course, and he took the course right along with me. I still carry my diving card proudly.
It was issued in the days when computers took up an entire air-conditioned room and typing was still done on manual machines. I am surprised they even had plastic cards in those days. It must have been one of the first ever printed.
While I cannot remember a single gift that was inside that suitcase, I have always carried the experience of diving with me. That gift has lasted all these years and brought me much joy.
I spent most of my adult life as the stay-at-home mother of six children. I loved that time when my children were small, but travel and adventure could seem very far away when I spent my days washing clothes, faces, and dishes, or changing what seemed like hundreds of nappies.
Just knowing I had the qualification, made me feel I was still an adventurer at heart.
Almost thirty years later, my diving qualification has also been useful. Last year I was offered an opportunity to go diving at the beautiful Nelson Bay marine park in New South Wales, Australia.
The sea life was amazing and the coral seemed unspoiled and so beautiful in colour, shape and texture. I saw a huge blue groper with a droopy jaw, stingrays, baby sharks and a puffy orange boxfish. I admired purple and orange fixed coral and wavy, fronded, flower-like coral. It was magic.
The experience of diving was one of the best presents my father could have bought for me, and one that still has value today. When all the physical presents are gone, the experiences are still there, ready to be taken out and mulled over if I am ever grounded by age or illness.
As it comes up to Christmas, I have been thinking about what I can get my boys for Christmas. I want the gift to be memorable.
I would love to give them scuba diving courses but it would be too expensive this year. I will have to be more creative. I am thinking camping or maybe spending some nights on my friends moored yacht.
We are also going to put together baskets of goodies to leave anonymously at doors on Christmas Eve. It is one of my favourite traditions, and a fun experience for me and for my boys.
I hope your Christmas plans are coming along well. Experiences make lovely Christmas gifts. If you have any better ideas for Christmas experiences, please share them in the comments section. I would love to hear them.