Did you know the value of wooden nickels is going up? It actually hasn’t happened yet everywhere. But it could happen any day now. So I’m giving you a heads up in case you want to invest in some wooden nickels while there is still time. I would pay at least $20 each, maybe even more. I’m sure this seems a little odd, but I discovered a secret about wooden nickels yesterday.

I was traveling around Memphis trying to find a BBQ place where I used to eat as a kid in the 70s. That’s when it happened. Out of nowhere, I remembered the wooden nickels they would give out when we would pick up our meal. It’s hard to explain, but I suddenly became obsessed with finding the same restaurant that gave me wooden nickels. Then I went on a quest to find one of the rare wooden coins. I drove to an antique mall outside of town, asked my parents, googled relentlessly, and even called friends I hadn’t talked to in years. Finally a 70-year-old father of a friend told me he thought he remembered a BBQ fast food place giving out wooden nickels over 30 years ago. That was all the confirmation I needed to continue on my mission.

Those wooden nickels have definitely gone up in value, at least for me. (Not just any wooden nickels by the way, but wooden nickels from BBQ places in Memphis.) I’m sure this probably seems like a strange quest, but these nickels were pretty important to me as a kid. Evidently they weren’t as significant to my parents, because they have no recollection of the wooden nickels whatsoever. In their world of trying to raise and provide for a family, a wooden nickel wasn’t worth much. It couldn’t pay for the groceries, the mortgage or help them save for a college education. So it wasn’t as meaningful to them as it was to me when they handed me a simple token that came with my BBQ sandwich.

Isn’t that how it is sometimes? What doesn’t seem very important to us as adults, can potentially be huge to our children. And now that I am an older parent with aging parents, I can’t stop thinking about wooden nickels. They represent all those countless times when my parents did something in their ordinary routine of parenting and didn’t realize how valuable it was. They have given me a lot of wooden nickels over their lifetime. During my teens and twenties, I’m not sure I recognized how valuable those deposits were. But somewhere in my thirties and forties, I started realizing how much those wooden nickels were really worth.

Maybe my new interest in old wooden coins is connected to the fact that my mom discovered she has lung cancer a couple of weeks ago. The prognosis looks good and surgery is this Wednesday. But I keep thinking every day about her investments in my life for so many years. Wooden nickels may not get you the same return as gold in this economy, but as a parent don’t underestimate the potential they can have in your kid’s life over the long haul.

Just remember whenever you

go for a bike ride,
cook a favorite meal,
host a party,
go fishing,
play cards,
throw a ball,
write a note,
take a walk,
sing a song,
watch them play,
tell a story,
laugh together,
tuck them in,
see a movie,
go to church,
or take a trip

you are handing your kids wooden nickels that one day may be worth more to them than you could possibly imagine.