A New Year’s Challenge — Give Only Experiences! 

Ryan Steger
Give Only Experiences New Years Challenge


This is going to be an emotional article and I apologize in advance. I work as a CNA on a COVID floor and I want to share what I’ve learned the past two years. 

Please understand, I do not want to debate COVID or the vaccines in the comments. Additionally, this article expresses only my viewpoint and is not an expression of my employer.

I have seen a lot of death, unfortunately, and seeing death has given me a different perspective on what is important in life.

My family and I for Christmas this year are doing something different, we’re giving experiences, not gifts. For us, making memories and experiences is more important than having things. This has really started me thinking about what I want to experience with my parents, grandparents, and loved ones. Work will always be there, and money might come and go, but memories with your loved ones and memories you make will never leave.

Is it more likely, when you are gone, that your kids will remember what video game you got them, or a trip? Even if the trip is miserable, I can guarantee that your kids, nieces, nephews, or loved ones are going to remember that trip for the rest of their life.

Give Only Experiences New Years Challenge

Even spending time with your loved ones in something as simple as sitting around a campfire, or playing cards — some of my favorite times with my uncle are him teaching me how to play sheepshead.

Who knows how much longer you have with your loved ones? A car crash could take out your loved ones tomorrow, so go on that trip with them. I’ve seen this happen more times than I would care to admit, and it is hard. Families especially have a hard time with losing a loved one suddenly; and one of the most helpful things in these circumstances is to have memories with your loved ones.

No one can live forever. Everyone is going to die. This is a tough concept to realize but it is absolutely true. I encourage you to think about the legacy you want to leave behind.

Give Only Experiences New Years Challenge


Experiences are not just epic trips, or summiting epic mountains. One of my favorite things to do is to take my to-do list (including papers and studying) and “accidentally” forget about it to go camping and mountain biking. And you know what? After one night away, I’m refreshed, more productive and much more at ease with the world!

Finally, the odds of you dying with everyone you love at the same time is extremely unlikely. So, this is going to sound selfish, but make memories for you, too! If you want to go on a trip and you don’t have anyone to go with, do it anyway! I’ve met so many nice people solo camping in weird places! Pro tip, bring some beer and everyone will be more than happy to have you around their campfire.

Give Only Experiences


Going into the new year, I’m challenging myself … and I would like to open this up to everyone reading this article … I’m challenging myself and my family to give experiences for birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and other holidays.

Let’s share these experiences on Instagram and start the #giveonlyexperiences.

The gift can be as simple as helping a neighbor snowblow. Or as wild as …

I can't wait to hear all about it!

Trail talk


Brandon G

Brandon G

Ryan, first off thanks for your service in medicine. My experience in civilian Fire and EMS and then bomb disposal in the military supports your observation; life is short and death is unpredictable. Your post is an acute reminder to focus on being present and making memories that matter. Thanks Brother.

Awesome photos, btw.



Great article, and so on point!

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