Experiences: Lifetime Gifts

On my son’s wall hangs this memory, a framed scorecard and photograph signed by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, who threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds on Oct. 6, 2010—the first playoff appearance of his storied career. We bought it at Citizens Bank Park during the first homestand of the 2011 season. I remember it well.

When I heard about Halladay’s fatal plane crash last month, I immediately thought of this image. I was thankful that my son, a lifelong baseball player who continues that pursuit in college, got a chance to see this Phillies great in person. I was glad that as father and son, we experienced that magical Phillies run from 2007-2011. And I was reminded of the many wonderful Phillies moments I’ve had with both my son and daughter—from crab fries to a world championship.

In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately cruising down memory lane. Mostly in preparation for this magazine’s 30th anniversary, which will take place in March 2018. In planning for that issue, I’m enjoying sifting through images of the magical moments Out & About has had the good fortune to witness. There were many.

Which leads me to the theme of this month’s issue in the season of gift-giving: The magic of giving an experience.

As we all know, Jeff Bezos has become a very rich man by having Amazon deliver things to us. Today, you can order a thing for everyone on your list—all without leaving your couch. In fact, technology is making it so we might soon be able to eliminate the last human component of the gift-buying process —the delivery person. Drones can handle that.

But Amazon can’t deliver a concert with a friend. Or a ski trip with the boys. Or a ball game with your kids. Delivering memories is a personal thing. And as the Halladay tragedy reminds us, it’s a gesture that should not be put off for another day.

In this issue, contributing writer Leeann Wallett gives some creative suggestions on experiences as gifts. And contributor Dillon McLaughlin reports on some of the wonderful holiday traditions we’ve built around the state.

Let me be clear, I’m not opposed to the efficiency that technology has brought to holiday shopping. For me, the mall is an intimidating place. Furthermore, saving time by shopping online allows us more time to pursue experiences. In fact, it makes experiences easier to coordinate because you can shop for them in advance.

In a recent issue of Business Week, Jim Coulter, co-CEO of the major private equity firm TPG Capital, pointed out a significant trend in today’s economy: Spending habits are changing from things to experiences. Coulter goes on to say that experiences are not only more valuable to people, that value is enhanced when the experience can be shared through channels such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat…

Encouraging trends are not easy to find these days, and I find Coulter’s observation encouraging. An experiential gift can last a lifetime; all you need is a prompt to relive it. Can’t say that for my Christmas tie. It disappeared days after the holidays, lost amid all my stuff.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.