Thursday, November 26, 2009
While I was washing the dishes a couple of weekends ago, my wife hinted of how much fun it would be if our family were to spend the week of Thanksgiving in Maryland – where my 3 older sisters and their families live. I immediately shot down the “absurd” idea because – we were trying to minimize our spending; I was working that week; we had several appointments scheduled; and the idea of driving 12 hours was tiresome knowing that we would be travelling to Maryland for Christmas and New Year anyway. But the wife was persistent and as any married man with an iota of wisdom would know, the overall health of the whole family depends largely on the mood of the mother. In Tagalog, huwag hayaang dumilim ang liwanag ng ilaw ng tahanan.
Somehow, the constraints slowly disappeared. The cost didn’t seem to be that much. My unused vacation days were creatively re-scheduled. Dental appointments were postponed by a week. A parent-teacher conference was arranged to be done by phone. A confirmed attendance to a birthday party was cancelled. And yes, the 12-hour trip didn’t seem so tiring anymore. The trip was eventually confirmed on a Wednesday. We left Illinois for Maryland last Friday evening, and before Saturday lunch the next day – we had the pleasure of walking into the home of one of my sisters un-announced. The other sister got a surprising phone call announcing our presence. Only one of my 3 sisters was informed of the trip.
I’m glad we did make the trip – my wife is enjoying a much needed break in the company of my sisters, the boys are having a blast with their cousins, and after several months of stressful projects at work, I definitely needed a vacation. Thank GOD for persistent wives.
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Earlier this evening at the Thanksgiving Eve worship service we attended, the congregation was asked to write down what we were thankful for on pieces of paper that were provided. These were then collected as offerings of thanksgiving. I listed my children amongst the top reasons to be thankful for. Without going into a lot of details, I’ve learned so much about GOD and myself due to my children in the past months or so.
A couple of weeks ago, my 3rd grader – the artist of the family and I were having a discussion regarding his Thanksgiving turkey project. The whole class was given a white paper in the outline of a turkey. See the image below:
They were asked to “disguise” the turkey so it could escape from ending at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I was explaining how my son could approach his project. As I am oftentimes do in this kind of situation, I was starting to take control and was becoming very impatient. I suggested that he could disguise the turkey as a tree, or as a pumpkin. I was getting annoyed that he wasn’t digging my suggestions. So, with a barrage of tense words, I left him to work on his project alone.
A few moments later, he informed me that he would disguise his turkey as the Mayflower. My first thought was – how the heck does one do that? The Mayflower? Does he even know what that is? It turned out that he did. And as he slowly explained his idea, I felt myself slowly wanting to sink to the floor. I then realized that my son wasn’t warm to my suggestions because he had better things in mind.
I’ve been a strong believer that parents are solely responsible for helping their children achieve their highest potential. Though I fail repeatedly, I do my best to love, nurture, mentor, and be the best example for my 3 boys. I sometimes forget though, that children weren’t meant just to be taken cared for by their parents. In many ways, they are there to mold me as a person, and to also strengthen my character. And character is no small thing – after all, from a biblical perspective, I will be taking my character with me to eternity. In contrast, my accomplishments, career, and material possessions, all which seem to be so important in this fleeting lifetime will eventually vanish.
In the case of the turkey project, God has spoken to me through my child. I need to work on my humility. I need to work on my patience. I need to be less judgmental of my child’s abilities – or any other person for that matter. I need to be less judgmental, period. Sometimes, things that may seem as ordinary as a pumpkin or a tree to me, can actually be as complex and as purposeful as the Mayflower. I thank God for my child, and for the lesson I learned through him.
I share below his completed turkey, and his accompanying write-up. Happy Thanksgiving!