About four summers ago my wife and I came into some extra money (for those that don’t know what this means, it means that you have more money than you expected–SURPLUS–hard to comprehend, isn’t it??) and I thought it would be wise to start getting things repaired on the house. Although this seemed the logical decision, my heart wasn’t in it. My wife had quit her job as a first grade teacher to be a full time mom, and thus with income cut in half, that meant I would have to pick up summer jobs: summer school for nine summers. This particular summer I was writing curriculum, and even though my stress was reduced, I felt obligated to keep on top of all the repairs.
My heart wasn’t in it, and since I had worked so long for so many years , we had never taken a vacation as a family with the girls. After discussing my plan with my wife, we decided that it was more important to invest in time with the girls and not the house. As my mother used to say, you can’t take a U-Haul to heaven!
The vacation was what was needed to reduce stress. We took late night runs for ice cream, explored The Mall, watched people, and a sundry of other activities. Returning home, I still looked at an unrepaired house (did you know you can get duct tape that matches the color of the cabinets?), but also looked at children that I had invested my time and love. The lesson learned was yet to come.
For awhile that September, we had a category 5 hurricane approaching the Virginia coast, and we even had begun deciding what to pile in the trunk of the car and called family to see who we could stay with. The forecasters were even predicting that many buildings would be flattened.
One night I stood in the backyard looking at the house as I prepared for the hurricane, I thought: if I had spent all that money on repairs and not my family, it would have been for naught. What would my children have remembered? That the house was more important than they? That’s when I determined that investing in people was a treasure that would last forever. Teaching is an investment in the future, and we as teachers do this every day. Thus, what’s the point?
Take time this Christmas to be with those that need an encouragement and time. Recharge your batteries. Read a book. Watch five movies in one day. Watch the sunset with a friend. Put your watch in the drawer. Call somebody up that you haven’t talked to in a long time. WRITE a letter to an old friend. Buy somebody a gift AFTER Christmas for somebody that can’t return the favor. Listen instead of talking.
Enjoy your Christmas, and please take time to read a wonderful column that a great writer, Kerry Dougherty, from the Virginian Pilot, wrote. It’s well worth your time: Go.