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Sunday, October 4, 2015

To Souvenir or Not to Souvenir

(Since we are heading out on a family vacation soon, I thought I would repost this article I wrote for Home and School Mosaics, back in July sometime....)

To souvenir or not to souvenir - that is the question....right? Can I get an amen, mamas? You know that you will be asked that question at least once on vacation, right? Rainman and I have very different opinions and approaches to this issue. I am MUCH more practical when it comes to this and he is much more YOLO (You Only Live Once) in his approach.

I am afraid that, most times, it ends up being a bit of a Good Cop/Bad Cop scenario.
For a real life example of our differences, I submit Exhibit A – our Trip to Venice, Italy:
Back when we just had two kids, Rainman’s job had a short term assignment in The Netherlands. We moved over there into a house for a month. We spent our weekends traveling by train to Germany and Belgium. At the end of his work assignment, we took a 2 week vacation and toured the places we couldn’t get to in just a weekend. One of those places was Italy. Loved Italy. Beautiful scenery. Really sweet, beautiful people. Anyway, we went to Venice and toured the glass making/blowing island called Murano. We took the little boat ride over. Sat through a demonstration of how they make their pieces. Then, as any good tourist tour ends, they dump you in the gift shop…or, in this case, the showroom. Rainman and I wandered separately taking a look at their wares. At one point, Rainman came over to me excitedly telling me what we needed to take home with us. He made excited exclamations about how beautiful it was. How colorful it was (he knows me). He said, “Come here! Come here! Look at this! We need this!” I looked.
I wish I would have snuck a picture of what we was so excitedly showing me. It was a tray, a pitcher, and 8 small glasses. If memory serves, they were blue and red and sort of striated….with gold shiny stuff on them. Very ornate. Very…not me.
It was one of those moments where I had to do quick mental gymnastics and decide whether he was joking or serious and respond appropriately.
I mean we were traveling through Europe on a Eurail pass, with our 2 small children (and their double stroller), my parents, Rainman’s mom…and all our luggage. Did he really mean we should add a bunch of ornate, highly breakable stuff to our entourage? Or pay a whole bunch of money and have it shipped home?
I don’t remember the details of the actual conversation, but I remember my points of it being impractical. It being too fancy for us. It being something that we would rarely, if ever, use, which would mean it was just a dust collector. As well as my main point….it was too expensive. It was like $800 American dollars. His points were something along the lines of, you only live once. We probably weren’t ever going to get to come back to Venice. Look at what a conversation piece it would be.
I think you get the idea. In this case, thankfully, I “won” with this $40 beauty.
This has been used. Yes, when it isn’t used, it does just sit and collect dust on our mantle but, believe me, it is a lot easier to dust than his drink set!
But it is a perfect example of our two approaches to buying stuff when we go on trips. I have learned to relax my stance a bit on souvenirs and he has learned to be practical every once in a while.
The kids are not dumb. If they want something, they know who to ask.
They do not ask the lady who birthed them who thinks pictures are a perfectly good souvenir of the trip. They ask the guy that is willing to buy t-shirts or wooden replica guns or coon skin caps. He does not like to say no….even though sometimes he admits that he wants to. We have learned the couple shorthand/secret coded messaging that if the kids ask him at a store and he says “Ask your mom.”……he is really sort of wanting me to say no….so he doesn’t have to.   LOL I am perfectly fine being the bad guy in this situation, because I know it leaves us more money for going out to eat or, quite frankly, going on more trips!
Really, to me, pictures are a perfectly good souvenir or our trip. Maybe a few beautifully photographed postcards to add to the scrapbook too, but pictures to me are enough. They document the event. They induce memories.
Okay, yes, I can sometimes go overboard on this: I submit Exhibit B: Picture 247 of 416 of D-man’s Prom:
I am perfectly fine taking pictures and just being together. Making memories. Shared experiences.
Rainman, on the other hand, would be fine skipping pictures….unless it is some sort of panoramic view ….without any people in it…..that he finds amazing. (I find those pictures boring too. I need people in pictures, preferably close up shots of my babies!)
We have learned to compromise a bit, and to tweak things a bit so we are both happy and nobody is angry.
We set a budget ahead of time. (No, we don’t always stick to it….because somebody still has the basic “you only live once” mentality. But, it is at least a marker or barrier for us to shoot for.)
In my mind, stuffed animals are not memories. In Rainman’s mind they are…..if the kids bat their baby blues at him and call him “Daddy”.
Our compromise means we tend to steer more towards getting fridge magnets from the places we have visited and not stuffed animals or t-shirts from every single one…..just some of them. Although, I have even had a t-shirt forcibly thrust upon me by Rainman….from here…..
It has made a nice set of pjs….because even though I am not the most stylish person in the world…this is not the sort of thing I would purposely wear in public. No offense to the wigwam people intended. I will remember our nights in the Wigwam more for the boys and I trying to get a selfie of us….and none of our arms were long enough.
I don’t need things to remember events. I have reached that ripe old age where I really just want to spend time with people. Even when I just head back to Minnesota for a visit. I really do just want to sit and chat and get caught up. I don’t need to go do something (well, I do like to hit Baker’s Square and Culver’s while I am there…..)
It is the same with my kids and even Rainman. I just want to be with them. I want to laugh with them. I want to try new things and laugh about how badly I am doing them. I want to snuggle. I want to point out the window at how pretty the mountains are or the cloud that looks like a dragon. (Oh, and I want to eat out…at a restaurant….with waitresses and all that fancy stuff.)
There aren’t any t-shirts for those things.
So, to souvenir or not to souvenir? What is your answer to that question? For me, Kayla, the person, the answer is rarely to souvenir, but, because I am also Kayla, the mom, AND wife to Rainman, and saying yes to souvenirs makes him happy, the answer is …..sometimes, when it is reasonable and not crazy expensive. I learned my lesson in Murano (and also learned that when I think Rainman is joking…he probably isn’t…and vice versa!)
So thankful I don’t actually own these puppies! (although you can if you visit the Etsy shop of EvaElsieElla)
Murano Glass
How about you - do you guys "do" souvenirs?  Is it part of our trip budget?  Do you go crazy and regret it later?


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