Experiential Birthday Presents

Yesterday my son turned one.  For a present, his daddy and I gave him a Passport to the National Parks and his first official stamp.

We had been invited up to see friends at Cultus Lake just outside of Vancouver.  My husband said, "We could go Friday to visit friends in New West, then head to the party on Saturday. And then I might as well go into the Vancouver office for a few days and we can see cousins and friends in the city." Pause. "And then since we are up there, maybe we could go see my Dad for a few days and I could work from Victoria."  Pause.  "And (here he started excitedly poking me in the arm) we could loop home to Seattle by ferry to the Olympic Peninsula and go camping in the Hoh Rainforest!"  This is how my husband's brain works.  He is a master of logistics and a maximizer extraordinaire.  So that is how 11 days later, 700 miles, 3 ferries, 1 petting zoo, several dinner parties, 2 ten-mile hikes and 3 campfires later we ended up celebrating Xavier's birthday in a spectacular and unusually sunny rainforest.  

I love to give experiential gifts and this one will keep on giving for years to come as we explore all over the country together as a family.  Very likely my son will inherit my collector gene although I suppose there is a chance he’ll roll his eyes in future years as I insist on stamping his passport, but no matter.

Apparently these passports are popular in many arenas.  A few years ago, I visited my sister and her husband in Japan where they were teaching English.  My favorite souvenir from Kyoto was a sort of temple passport, this beautiful book with accordion-style pages.  

At each temple, many of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a calligrapher marks your visit by writing the date, temple name and some other beautiful notations in Japanese script I cannot read.  I gleefully ran around - I mean I serenely strolled through the temples collecting calligraphy inscriptions.  I must go back to Japan someday soon for the incomparable food, the friendly people, the relaxing onsens and more calligraphy inscriptions for my temple passport.  

Seattle Public Libraries put out a passport in 2008 to celebrate 10 years of renovations to the 27 neighborhood branches.  A friend in my book club visited each branch with her two young kids and had a ball filling up their passport.  

And then there are actual international passports.  Who doesn't feel a thrill when entering a new land and hearing that satisfying thunk! as the official stamp is issued?  What better memory aid then flipping through a passport to recall all your adventures?

Here is Xavier at 5 Mile Island in the Olympic National Park.  He assured me this birthday has been his best one yet.

1 comment:

  1. You will have many National Parks to visit this summer with the trip to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota! I remember visiting the
    Mt. Rushmore National Monument with you. And when we go visit Aunt Cindy we could join her in Algeria to see 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in your last continent to visit! The world has so many beautiful places and people to meet. Going to the Spring International Festival at the University of Idaho, we filled a passport book to many countries in one evening as we enjoyed their food, music, art, dance and unique Native attire.