Saturday night a group of us were talking about memorable holidays and why they remain at the top of our list of favorites. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

No one in the group brought up a wow of a gift but many brought up experiences they remembered as significant. For example, one Christmas Eve post divorce, my boys and I visited my mom. She had MS and was content to stay home. She loved the midnight service where at the end, the lights were extinguished and candles lit as the congregation sang Silent Night. In her living room each son read a bit of the Christmas story from the Bible and then we doused the lights and lit our white candles as we sang. Mom loved it and the boys still think of it as very special. Afterwards we went sliding on a golf course near our home. We had a thermos of hot chocolate, a full moon and the hill all to ourselves. Notice that no money was spent and nothing was unwrapped.

Not strictly a holiday memory but my youngest brought up a trip to the ranch near Santa Fe where I did some consulting. Each kid got to accompany me on one business trip a year as the thank you for putting up with a business traveling mom. When he was five, this was his trip. There was a meeting of ski resort owners having a planing meeting. He sat in and good that he did. Most of the adults were intimidated by their computer voting system. I brought my son to the front of the room and his input could be seen on a big screen. Then he walked around and coached the grown ups one-on-one. It was a confidence booster for everyone and one of his earliest memories. The rest of the long weekend we went horseback riding and did more fun stuff than showing adults how to use their computers.

Other memories got shared of camping trips, getting cookies from room service at a hotel in Washington D.C. (at $14/six cookies a second order did not happen), a special trip another person remembered with her dad, and as each story triggered someone else’s memory a theme emerged. Experiences are far more memorable than stuff.

The next day I read this.Consuming experiences rather than things leads to greater gratefulness and generosity, study finds:

Cultivating gratitude, therefore, is a good thing – or it can be. But how do we go about doing that cultivation?

Well, a new study suggests that one of the best ways is through “consuming” experiences rather than things. In other words, the study found that people feel much more gratitude for what they’ve done than for what they own.

Furthermore, that “experiential” gratitude has an extra benefit: It tends to result in people behaving more generously toward others.

If you are thinking about holiday giving, try experiences. You might just be grateful that you did.

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