Can it be true that a gift requiring labor or work is a gift of love? You betcha. In 2020, giving someone you care about a new experience is indeed a gift of love.

If you were born before 2000, perhaps an “experience” is “so yesterday.” Today, in our virtual world, getting to actually “do” some new venture is exciting and worthwhile for many people, There’s a growing trend in gardening, whether inside or outside; Same with farming and animal husbandry, even if it’s small-scale.

Young people are seeking ways to challenge themselves. They want to learn how to do some of the things they’ve seen on U-Tube, or heard about, but haven’t actually done.

The grandparents of those young folk think nothing of darning a hole on the heel of a sock, or changing the oil in their pickup. It’s what people do (or did) “way back when.” But if you don’t do it yourself how will you know how anything works? Experience.

It was the generation born of the Great Depression that last heard how tough life can be without raw materials and manufacturers. That generation heard it all and remained determined to not put their kids through all the penny-pinching careful shopping, saving and repairing they were forced into by their parents. Now their children and especially their grandchildren are finding out this disposable lifestyle is destroying oceans and air. They want to get “back to the basics of life” and learn how to live simpler and more sustainably.

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Middle and high schools rarely offer mechanics/shop or home economics classes. The late Helmut Albrecht and Ollie Lemay guided boys through mechanics and shop classes here in Jamestown. They learned about design, building, repairing and thinking. Home-Ec instructors took students to the kitchen to do hands on. They learned to cook by cooking. Today it’s virtual and people want real experience.

The term “experience” is now the working word for start-up businesses. People are paying upwards to $50 a person to have an Escape room experience solving problems and puzzles. Escape rooms are among the businesses capitalizing on the generational need for experience.

Escape rooms can be gifted, and there are at least two in Jamestown and many in Fargo and venues east. But so too are other wonderful experience-filled venues. There are farms with rentable rooms that give the family time together to work in barns and fields with cattle and horses. There are bakers, vintners, chefs and other “gourmet” locations where classes in food-preservation, wine-making, baking and beekeeping are done. Some sheep-shearing co-ops also teach how to card and spin yarn, knit and weave. All experiences make great gifts.

Tech schools offer classes as does The Arts Center downtown. Search the web and you’ll find a number of options for short-term experiences that teach real-life problem-solving.

The University of Jamestown will have a week of experiences for anyone wishing to learn more about international travel, foreign languages and culture. It starts Monday, Feb. 23, and runs through the week. Professor Kate Stevenson, on Shrove Tuesday, will speak about Peggy Lee. Be sure to check next week’s column for more information.

This year a gift that lets your Valentine experience something new can be a loving gift.

If anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.