I am unfortunately afflicted with a melancholy reflectiveness during the holiday season. So with Christmas fast approaching, I thought I might share a reflective article I wrote back in 2007. I hope you find it meaningful. Merry Christmas.
Like many of my contemporaries I lost my grandparents far too soon to either recognize or appreciate the treasure with which I had been graced. Adrift in a sea of self absorbed youth, slowing down from my frenetic pace to spend what would now have been cherished time and memories seemed as foreign to me as bird watching. I spent several years in arm’s reach of my history, tradition and heritage, yet failed to make the connection until all too soon my opportunity succumbed to the passing years. Having chosen to pursue life’s rewards far flung from the family nest, my children similarly stand to lose a lifetime’s opportunity to connect with their grandparents, their heritage and their history.
With communication so easily available via email, telephone, video phone, instant access cellular communications, and even the antiquated card or letter, it is saddening to recognize that we have allowed ourselves to become so preoccupied and self absorbed that in spite of the ease of access, finding the time to maintain and foster that connection between the past and the future still eludes us. I found only years later, the sage wisdom of the years that my parents so graciously carry with them. As surely as they must watch our triumphs with a sense of parental pride, then also must they watch with a sigh of relief that their offspring have accomplished something. As surely as they must watch our tribulations with parental pain, also must they often watch with a silent chuckle that we are not so smart after all. The wisdom of the years also must have a sense of humor. And along with that quiet reflection, they also carry with them, the acquired knowledge and knowing understanding of a lifetime.
Imagine if you will, if the entirety of the generations still bestowed with the privilege of having their forebears still alive would stop for an hour per week and call their grandparents, aging parents, aunts, uncles, retired teachers or retired business leaders and just talk. More importantly, just listen. Imagine if an hour per week was invested in casual conversation at the local retirement home. What could we learn? What pain, trails, and fruitless pursuits could we save ourselves by applying the acquired intellect of an entire generation who has already experienced the parts of life we are experiencing and even more profoundly have already experienced much of our future? What if we wrote down all that we learned in a book of acquitted knowledge? What value could we place on it? What could we learn of our history, heritage, immigrations, sacrifices, etc., that might help to instill in our youth a sense of community, acceptance of diversity, understand of adversity, and perseverance. Of necessary sacrifices for love, freedom, charity, country and god? Of work ethic, moral fortitude, humility, grace, religion, and politics? Of the importance of Family, the trust of friendships, and the meaning of a neighbor? Of what home should feel like or the hug of your child, or the love of your spouse? Of life and death, and times of feast and famine?
Wrapped up in our dizzying pace along with our even more frantic youth, we may never know the answers to those questions. But the questions are profound. And for those who accept it, the challenge to make that commitment is rewarding beyond measure.