Great Gift for Grads or Dads

Take ’em on a walk down Musical Memory Lane.

Need a great gift for a dad or a grad in your life? (Or anyone you love?!)

I stumbled my way into this creative gift idea recently and wow-oh-wow, was it fun! This is a gift that before you give it, is a present to yourself because it is so darned enjoyable – and simple – to create.  (I love when the lines are blurred between giving and receiving!)

Here’s what happened. It was my mom’s birthday a couple weeks ago. I’d mailed her a package due to arrive on her birthday, but it got delayed in transit and the tracking suddenly showed that it wouldn’t arrive until the day after her birthday. Oh, drat. I wanted her to know I was thinking about her on her birthday. I decided I would send her a short voice note simply telling her I love her, wishing her a beautiful day and letting her know that her gift would arrive a tad late. (Note: In a previous Kind Over Matter article, I listed the step-by-step for creating a voice note/audio note.)

Just before I created that voice note, I happened to hear “Moon River,” a song that reminds me of a funny memory I share with my mom. (She loves that song and I had once tried to learn it on the ukulele to play for her as a Mother’s Day gift. It was awful! But it became a running joke between us!) As I was smiling to myself about this song and the happy memory of how it connects us, the idea dropped in to play a snippet of that song on my voice note. Then I could mention the ukulele story and make my mom laugh.

I was feeling pleased as punch – you might even say, over the moon! – with this idea because I knew it would make my little voice note feel even more fun and more personal. THEN, life dropped in the idea that I could dig up other songs that remind me of my mom. I could tell a few stories instead of just one. The phrase “Musical Memory Lane” came to me! Once that name came to me, I was so inspired and excited. I had a lot of fun thinking about my childhood and songs that were the “soundtrack” to certain experiences in my family.

[Just a note here to say that I am grateful beyond measure that life often gives us breadcrumbs that lead us someplace unexpected and delightful. Have you ever experienced this? One little idea – if we follow it – leads to another and another. I am committed to always acting on the tiniest nudge or intuition because inevitably, something like “Musical Memory Lane” drops in my lap!]

I’m fortunate because I keep an iTunes playlist of what I consider to be “music from my life” – songs that have special meaning to me. I created this collection many years ago and I simply add to it whenever I think of a musical memory. (I hope you will adopt this idea for yourself because it is uplifting to listen to music that moves us in this way, music that reminds us of who we are, music that connects us to people or places we have loved.)

I started my “Musical Memory Lane” gift by quickly scanning through the songs in that iTunes playlist. There were a number of songs on there that were from my childhood and that connected me to my mom. I wrote down the names. Then, I wrote down other songs that occurred to me as I thought about memories and times I’ve shared with my mom.

great gifts for grads or dads 3 stencil

When I hit “record” on the audio note, I simply started talking to my mom and telling her that in celebration of her birthday I was going to take her on a walk down “Musical Memory Lane.” I played a snippet of Bobby Sherman’s song “Bubble Gum and Braces.” I told my mom that I remember when we used to drive in the green, wood panel station wagon and she would put that Bobby Sherman 8-track in the car stereo. I recalled how we had sleeping bags in the back and we three kids would face backwards, waving to the people in the car behind us as we drove the long trip to my Grandma’s house.

I then played a little snippet of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and told my mom how this song reminds me of being in a tiny store in Ithaca, NY one winter. I remember picking out that year’s Christmas tree ornament, which was a ritual we had. Every year each child got to pick out an ornament that my mom would hang on the tree. (When we grew up and had our own houses, my mom gave us all our ornaments! It is so meaningful!) Obviously, I don’t really remember if that song was actually playing when I was choosing an ornament, but my mind connected the two and that makes it an honest memory for me. Plus, the main thing about this gift is just to evoke good feelings that come from music and memories!

On my voice note, I just kept going like that. Snippet of song followed by a little memory. I think I may have included ten or twelve songs and memories for my mom. Don’t think you have to find that many! Even just one song and one memory would be an amazing personal gift!

I want you to pause here and think about this. Can you imagine creating this meaningful gift for someone?

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Students are graduating (or recently graduated!) from high school and college. Brides and grooms are planning their weddings. Summer birthdays are almost upon us. Instead of (or in addition to) a store-bought gift, what if you gifted them a “Musical Memory Lane?”

Think about how much fun it would be for you to create; and how touching, connecting and loving it will feel for someone to receive this.

In this fast-paced digital age we live in, people seldom have the chance to pause and reflect on their life. There’s so little that prompts us to bask in happy memories from the past or to re-appreciate the occasions we’ve shared with loved ones. This is a gift that gives someone all of that.

What you are saying between the lines (er, between the musical notes!) is “I see you. I know you. You matter. I am taking the time to celebrate our relationship. You are that important to me!” Your dad, that grad, that bride or groom, that important birthday celebrator in your life will feel this. I promise it will land with more impact than a tie or watch or bouquet of flowers. (Not that those aren’t great gifts! You could still give those; but a gift from the heart with great thought will always stand head and shoulders above the rest!)

Are you getting ideas about this for someone in your life?!

Will you do this?

Here’s a little added incentive: My mom and I had so much fun talking about this gift afterward. It sparked even more connection between us! Other fun memories popped up unexpectedly while we were laughing about the songs I chose, and even more songs dropped in my mind. (Maybe I’ll make a Musical Memory Lane 2.0!) We also sent the audio to my sister so it connected us to her, as well. (Remember the “breadcrumbs” idea? That is how it works! One little love action leads to another.)

I challenge you to think of one person you want to celebrate with this gift. Got someone in mind? Let’s go!

Here are 10 easy steps to create a Musical Memory Lane:

  1. Brainstorm songs that remind you of the person you love.
  2. To help jog your memory, think about trips, concerts or private jokes. What songs have been a backdrop to special occasions? Try googling “Songs from the 70’s” (or whatever era is important to you and your gift recipient).
  3. Search for these songs on your favorite music platform. Open a separate tab for each song so it’s easy to access.
  4. Open the Voice Memo or a Recorder App on your mobile phone – or use any recording device.
  5. Press PLAY and start talking! Don’t worry about making it sound good. Just be yourself. Say, “I’m taking you on a walk down a Musical Memory Lane.” Then, play a snippet of the first song while telling why it reminds you of this person.
  6. Tell a short memory or story for each song.
  7. End your recording by saying “I love you! Thank you for creating so many wonderful memories with me!”
  8. Stop the recording.
  9. Send your audio via email or text. You can also put it on a flash drive, wrap it in a little box and mail it to the recipient.
  10. Pat yourself on the back for creating something fun and meaningful for someone you love. (Hopefully you enjoyed it, too!)

Sherry’s mission is helping people find creative, intentional and impactful ways to celebrate life and to express love for family and friends. Visit her website or email her to say hello at Sherry@simplycelebrate.net. Sherry’s book, “Say it Now; 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life,” is now available on Amazon. Join Sherry’s free 5-day challenge, "Olly Olly Oxen Free: Permission and Belonging," here.

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