by Ed Thompson
I have five children ranging in age from 26 years to 5 months old. I have 2 grandchildren from 8 to 4 years old. I have a full-time job writing and producing for eight radio stations. I have part-time freelance jobs. I have a wife who has a full-time job. We both have commitments to church, business, and social groups. Time is more valuable than a trade agreement with a jewelry store. During Christmastime, it becomes more valuable than a chain of jewelry stores.
My 2 year old son, Jeffrey can sing the jingle from the commercial for the incontinence drug, Detrol®. It’s the one that goes, “Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go right now,” proving once again that Roy Williams is right… about everything. But Jeff sings the jingle with a vastly different meaning. With a 2 year old, everything is, “Gotta go right now!”
But isn’t it like that for all of us? Take drug A for fast relief of whatever ails you. Buy exercise product B for immediate weight loss. Everything is now, now, now! Tomorrow is too late! Gotta have it now! Instant communication. Instant results. Instant gratification. The only thing that seems to last forever is a Presidential campaign.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in 43 years on this planet; it is that time grows shorter. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas passes by like a flash, and before I realize I’ve had any fun, the garbage truck is picking up the needle-bare Christmas tree from the curb.
Small wonder, considering our line of work. Many of us are busting our collective humps to meet deadlines and get our clients spots on the air right now. Plus, we have logs to merge. Not just for two stations. Many of us have six or more. Take us away from our jobs and we’re running all over town to do our shopping, visit friends and relatives, and attend recitals, school holiday programs, church pageants, and such. Then comes Christmas Eve and some of us are up past 2AM to put together a pink bicycle that Santa is supposed to leave under the tree, hopefully with no screws or bolts or nuts left over.
When was the last time that you stopped and savored a moment? I would wager that very few of us know how to savor anything.
Take five minutes. Right now. Hit the “pause” button on your life and take five minutes. Go to the vending machine in the lounge and buy a bag of plain M&M’s, the ones that melt in your mouth, not in your hands. Open the bag and take one M&M. Put it in your mouth but don’t bite it! Set it on your tongue like a tiny jewel on a red velvet pillow. Then, let it melt. Let it melt away until the only thing that remains is a candy-coated, milk chocolate memory. That’s what happens when you savor something. You get to relive a moment while at the very same time you’re making that moment.
When my youngest brother died in 1986, I had not spoken to him for more than a year. It cost me dearly and it nearly destroyed me. But I learned a valuable lesson from my stupidity. 12 years later, when my 19-year-old niece was hospitalized with heart trouble, I went to visit her for an afternoon. We talked and laughed and when I left, I told her that I loved her. Four days later, my father called to tell me she had passed away in the night.
When we bought our house, my wife found a sign at a craft show that reads, “Dance like no one’s watching, sing like no one’s listening, and live like there’s no tomorrow.” That sign holds a prominent place in our living room. It has become a rule for how I try to live my life.
This will be my youngest daughter’s first Christmas. It will also be the last time any of my children has a first Christmas. I promise you that I will hit my “pause” button many times as I savor the moments. I will watch her eyes sparkle at the twinkle on the tree. I will listen for her giggle when the silver bell is tinkled. And I will refuse to wait until after trash men pick up my tree to learn that I had a good time this year.
Someone wiser than me once said that “right now” is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.
Merry Christmas. God bless you and keep you and give you the gift of right now.