Sunday, February 20, 2011

Souvenirs, The Magic is in the Moment

Memories are an important part of our lives, they connect us to loved ones, to special places, and to moments in time.  We share our memories with others, we gather together and reminisce, indulging in our own memories as well as the memories of others.  However, memories can be fleeting and time will fade these precious moments into the mists of our past without renown.  Some memories have always been considered more special and humans have developed ways to help recall a certain place or occasion to precious to forget.

The birth of a pearl necklace for my
10th wedding anniversary.
The magic is in the moment.
Medieval pilgrims often leaving their small villages for the first time would gather in groups to travel to unique and special sites.  Along their journey they would collect little pewter badges to wear as mementos of their travels.  Not unlike Disney pins, the badges were cheap and mass produced, intended to be worn around the neck, on clothes, or hats to show and share with others where one had been.  These badges would connect the pilgrims with each other as sharing an experience, but most of all, they would be a touchstone to the act of remembering.  The French call the act of remembering, and something that serves as a reminder to it a souvenir. 

If you look up the word souvenir in a variety of dictionaries you will get a variety of answers.  What most have in common is that they suggest a souvenir is a token of remembrance that recalls a special place or occasion that has been visited.  In a strictly grammatical sense there are no rules to a souvenir and where it comes from, you could easily by a souvenir after you got home that symbolized your vacation memories; but I was raised a traveler, and one very special part of each vacation was when I got to purchase my souvenir.  To me, and in my family, finding the perfect souvenir that will help you recall the joys of the vacation is an important part of the trip.  We save our money, and think about what unique objects we may find to bring home for months before we leave.  It’s an opportunity to capture moments in time with a special touchstone that we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

The memories surrounding the 
purchase of this hat could have 
never been replicated ordering 
it online.
The magic is in the moment.
This brings me to one of my greatest pet peeves, and I apologize in advance if it offends, but I feel very strongly about this subject.  There is a trend in the budget driven, coupon clipping, money saving world of Disney trip planning to purchase your souvenirs at discount houses BEFORE you leave on vacation and take them with you.  WHAT!?!?  Why on earth would you do that?  Good grief people, get a grip!  What good is a memento that has been forcibly inserted into a situation?  Where is the magic?  How does the memory of heading to Walmart to buy a cheap Disney t-shirt recall the extraordinary experience of walking down the middle of Main Street USA?  I just don’t get it.  To me, this takes extreme budgeting so far that it sucks the special out of vacation even before you get there.  Yes.. oh yes… Disney is expensive and it is designed to separate you and your money as quickly as possible.  Deal with it.  Save for an extra month or two so that you can experience the madness.  Don’t be a cheapskate on vacation people, roll and revel in the pixie dust. 

Buying your souvenirs at your vacation destination creates special memories of their purchase for you.  Yes, it’s true that very young children may not understand the difference of what’s been done.  But do you as a parent want the memory of giving your child a Mickey plush you picked out and ordered in advance at home, or do you want to buy the plush that makes your child light up and almost jump out of the stroller it excites them so?

From my perspective pre-purchasing your souvenirs is stealing memories away from your family.  It’s cheating yourself out of that special moment just in order to save a buck.  Magical moments are spontaneous, you can’t pre-plan what will capture your memory and be the thing you want to reminisce well into the future.  Don’t limit your touchstones with objects that you thought might be good before the magic even happened.  


  1. Some of my best childhood memories are picking out a special item when we traveled near and far. I especially loved looking at all of the items at Disney and then making my purchase. We have done the same for our boys. We save in other ways to allow them to have this choice. Of course, I do buy Disney items on sale at home/online. This gives the kids a chance to wear shirts and fun things most days while away.

  2. A couple of times a year, I'll buy pins in bulk online, or from a friend of mine that does it more often. Our family will sift through the bag for the pins we want to keep, and take a half-dozen of the ones we don't want with us to Disneyland, and engage in pin trading. My 7 yr old son loves this, especially, because then he can ask the staff member about her job, and what s/he likes doing, and trade for a pin that s/he has that he wants. It makes everyone happy.

  3. Such good advice. We're going to Disney World in May and I thought about purchasing items now. I think I'll wait and let the kids enjoy the magic instead ;)

    I'm following from the hop.


  4. I buy Disney "stuff" all year long, it's just part of living a Disney Driven Life. A souvenir is a little more special though, it's not just a thing, it's a connection.

    Snobahr, I think your example of the Pin Trading is great because even though you pre-purchsed the pins, the memories and the experience in in the act of pin trading while at the Park. It's such a fabulous way to get kids involved and add to their experience.