“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ~ Anita Desai
This past Christmas was one of the most special ones yet for me. Different from previous years, I was doing quite a bit of traveling rather spending a lot of time at home. And since one of my best friends that I have known since Middle School was visiting our hometown. Because it was our first holiday together, I wanted to make it very memorable by planning a surprise visit to Biltmore House.
About a month before the visit, I reserved tickets, and since it was right after Christmas, the tickets were pretty expensive for daytime visits. If you book 7 days before visiting, then you will get $10 off your tickets. Since I wanted to show him downtown Asheville, I decided to book the tickets around 2 pm in order to have enough traveling time. I decided to drive to the estate so he can fully enjoy the experience upon entering the gates. As our car was approaching the gate, I turned and said: “Here is your present, Merry Christmas.” He was very happy about the surprise and was at awe because he was unaware of it the entire time. I was so proud of myself to be able to keep the secret for more than 1 month.
A little side story about us, we met each other in 7th grade and have been friends since then. During 7th grade, our school took us to Biltmore House for a field trip. Unfortunately, my best friend was in a car accident so he wasn’t able to attend the trip with his friends. So as part of his Christmas presents, I decided to surprise him with the visit.
Biltmore House is a private estate, built between 1889-1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II. It is 8000-acres of grand and luxury. The drive into the estate is like going through Central Park, with trees and its own lake. The place had its own village with many small gift shops and cafes.
During Christmas time, the whole estate is decorated with Christmas decorations, including hundreds of Christmas trees of all sizes and ornaments throughout. I have taken pictures during the self-guided tour, and although we were going at our own pace, we didn’t have enough time to take in every single detail that the estate had to offer. It was so grand and mysterious, Biltmore House is a time capsule of the Gilded Age.
Aside from giving physical gifts or money, I personally enjoy giving experiences. Whether it be trying out a new activity, eating at a nice restaurant, or visiting somewhere new, I’m all about making memories. I like to be generous with everything I own, aside from time. But I have no problem giving it to my loved ones, and if I can spend time making memories with them, it is time well spent.
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