TIME IS A GIFT TOO
By Lois Hoffman
I love the idea of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the other “special” holidays that are set aside to honor those who mean so much to us. Yes, sometimes it gets a little crazy, we just get past one holiday and another one is upon us.
Commercialism is largely responsible for this. Merchants seize the opportunity to capitalize on our almighty dollar. They promote holidays almost to the point of making us feel guilty if we don’t buy a gift and, on top of that, the perfect gift to show those we love how much we care. They convince us that a material thing can do that.
Especially for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, there is the added stress of what to buy. By the time they have raised their kids, parents pretty much have everything they need or want. Of course, there are always new gadgets on the market that they probably shouldn’t live without. But then, in retrospect, why do you think parents of young adults have so many yard sales? It’s to recycle all the new gadgets that they just can’t live without so they can make room for new gadgets!
There is a better way and it doesn’t cost a dime. It is the gift of time, a gift that, ironically, is harder to give than a material thing. How many times have you thought of stopping to spend some time with Mom, Dad, Grandma or some other special person in your life but you didn’t do it because you had to go to the store (to buy the gift), pick up the kids, take junior to baseball practice or some other errand. Oh, the intentions were good, you didn’t have time today but you would tomorrow is how you rationalize it. But tomorrow never seems to come. I am so guilty of this too. The blame goes to the modern world we live in and the demands it puts upon us.
It does take some effort to give this most precious gift of time. A case in point happened this week. Ron received the best Father’s Day gift a few days early this year from his son Rodney Scruggs. As everyone knows, this year the weather has been every farmer’s enemy instead of friend. Too much rain and at the wrong time has delayed getting crops in the ground. Here in central Indiana, farmers are still struggling.
On top of not getting the planting done, they can’t even get into the fields to work the ground to prepare for the crops. The old adage of “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” certainly rings true here. Even the few dry days that were sprinkled amidst the wet ones were not enough for farmers to get on their ground.
Consequently, when the weather did get near-right for a couple days, Ron was working a little ground, then planting it and then working more. I cannot (will not) either work ground nor plant because, as any farmer will tell you, even worse than not doing something in the field is not doing it right. So, I fill the role as gopher…go for this, go for that.
Rodney, who works full-time in a demanding job, has a wife and three kids and lives an hour and a half away, decided to drive up on two different days to help his Dad. This meant that ground was being worked ahead so the planter could follow right behind and twice as much work could be done in the same amount of time. In the narrow window of time that farmers get this year to get crops in, this was huge, especially since it was already the middle of June. When the last of the seed was in the ground, Rodney turned to his Dad and said “Happy Father’s Day.” Kudos to him.
Like all of us, he is busy beyond measure. Did he have the time to do this? Nope. Did he miss valuable weekend time with his wife and kids? Probably. Yet, he gave the best gift of all, the gift of time.
There is an irony to this. Rodney also got a gift in return. So many times, when families do get together, you never get to have that one-on-one time. Rodney got to spend time with his Dad…priceless for both of them. This is what the gift of time does.
Ron has an Aunt Betty who is in assisted living. We see her as often as we can, yet not nearly enough. She always brightens my day because she always has a smile, regardless of whether she is in pain or not. Whenever we leave we always ask if there is anything she wants and her answer is standard, ”Come back and see me soon.” All she wants is our time.
Over 30 years ago I learned this lesson about the gift of time and it still serves as a gentle reminder whenever I think that I am too busy for someone. I had always been close to my oldest uncle, a bachelor. One year in particular, I was young and had a full life and it was Christmas. I had decided that I would not see my uncle on that particular Christmas like I usually did because there was just too much going on. I’d see him in a day or so.
That year on Christmas Day, my whole day was planned. However, after church services on Christmas morning, something nudged me to turn the car the opposite way and go down and see my Uncle Harold. As I drove along, with the sun sparkling on the pristine snow, right in front of me was the brightest rainbow I had ever seen! It confirmed that I was doing the right thing and, how true it was, for it was the last Christmas I was to be with my uncle.
I hope that as long as I live, I never forget this lesson. I do treasure any gift that someone gives me, but most of all I treasure time spent with those I love and I hope I am never too busy to give that special gift to someone else.
The gift of time is the only gift in the world that gives two ways, to both the recipient and the giver. I know Ron and Rodney will both remember this special Father’s Day gift for years to come.
Images courtesy of Lois Hoffman
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