Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life embodied souls can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
The warp and weft that no one can unravel.
So I give thanks for our deep coinherence
Inwoven in the web of God's own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath.
I’m writing this on Thanksgiving evening after filling our plates, filling our drinks, and filling our hotel room with family, the kind of love three thousand miles can’t wash away.
Our entire immediate family – eight adults and nine (grand)children – is at the beach in Virginia.
Note: It is possible to spend $344 at Chili’s on a Wednesday evening. “Apps for everyone!”
That’s why it feels like a good time to revisit my Eight Simple Rules for grandparents. I adapted it from an earlier TBL which predated most of the subscriber base, so I hope it’s okay to repeat. The following picture is grandson #2 yesterday (Thanksgiving) morning.
Next week we’ll return to our regular programming.
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Thank you for reading.
Eight Simple Rules
Parenting is hard. Really hard.
As the philosopher Peter Kreeft recognized, “Having children is the most heroic thing we can do because nothing changes your life more than having children. Martyrdom is easy; it’s over quickly; children are never over. Never. Not even if they die before you.”
Grandparenting, on the other hand, is mostly delight. I have nine grandchildren. Each of my three kids and their spouses has three kids. It’s like Cicero (quoting Caecilius Statius) “plant[ing] trees for the use of another age” or, better still, building a field of dreams and having the best time ever doing it.
I have eight simple rules for grandparents I think are worth sharing. I try to live by them. My much-better-half really does.
What you do matters (they are watching). Don’t forget: They are always watching.
Love them unconditionally (no more and no less). Good parents set boundaries and expectations. Support the parents but let them take all of that on themselves. Their rules may not be yours. That’s okay. We actively try to avoid doing more than loving them for strategic reasons, too. If all you do is love the grands, they’ll come to you when they can’t or won’t go to their parents – and better you than anybody else. Besides, it’s like being able to ignore vegetables and getting double dessert.
Keep reminding them how wonderful they are. I want my grandchildren to know that Grandy and I are their biggest fans and supporters. We go to their games/recitals/events whenever we can and cheer like crazy. We cheer for them pretty much all the other time, too.
Be generous (especially with time). Kids care less about what you do as that you do it. I try to do what my grandchildren want as long as they want and we are allowed. My record is nearly two-and-a-half consecutive hours of catch. I thought my arm might fall off. The societal emphasis on “quality time” is more myth than reality. There is no substitute for (just-plain) time (grandson #1 below).
My dad worked in a steel mill. When the weather allowed, I’d wait for him to come home in the evening at the end of our street. Supper would have to wait. I’d be holding my baseball glove and his, plus a ball, waiting to have a catch. It’s my fondest childhood memory.
Bend the rules (but don’t break them). Respect the rules, but don’t be afraid to stretch things a bit for the benefit of the grands.
Tell stories. A good story allows the listener to feel thoughts, allowing us to learn and remember them. Stories are thus the best way to teach family history, values, and other important lessons. And kids love to hear about their parents when they were kids, especially when they were “bad.”
Have fun. Fun is the best activity and crucial to your legacy.
Offer wisdom (carefully and sparingly). Age brings a modicum of wisdom, if you’ve done things right. Grandchildren are uniquely positioned to hear and absorb it from you. But please don’t overdo it.
Getting old(er) isn’t always great. But grandchildren are amazing. They’re a delightful reward for having survived parenting. Grandparents have most of the fun (and often a lot more) without the responsibilities of parenting.
Totally Worth It
The following is the best thing I saw this week (except for the fam).
What is a subscriber? “Do you mean ‘people who pay a news company hundreds of dollars a year’? Or ‘email addresses we have in a spreadsheet somewhere’?” TBL subscribers are neither. It costs nothing to subscribe to TBL, but you can remove yourself from the subscriber list whenever you’d like. Not that there’s any good reason why you would….
Lionel Page @page_ecoFascinating: The French mathematician Laplace was already explaining in 1825 a fact “discovered” by behavioural economists in the late 20th century. 👇We overweight the probabilities of extreme (positive or negative) events. via @jben0 @StatModeling https://t.co/aW3JYnMkSB https://t.co/0nAShyACkm
This is insanity that screams, so I’ll more than link. The Toronto District School Board has cancelled an event with Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad and another author because it might offend somebody: “The event was supposed to carry discussion on two books in presence of their authors — Marie Henein’s Nothing But the Truth: A Memoir and Nadia Murad’s The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State. The board said it has withdrawn support to hold the October event with Henein, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants and one of Canada’s most prominent lawyers, because her book was ‘problematic’ as she ‘defended’ former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi when he was accused of sexual assault. For Murad’s event, which was to be held in February 2022, the board said the book written by her could “promote Islamophobia” and ‘offend’ their Muslim students. Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist, was 19 when she was taken as a sex slave in 2014 by the Islamic State militants who invaded her village in northern Iraq.”
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The Spotify play list of TBL music now includes more than 200 songs and 14 and a half hours of great music. I urge you to listen, like, … and turn the volume up. Way up.
This weekend brings the first Sunday of Advent. This week’s benediction harkens back to the first Advent and a young girl waiting, wondering and, against all hope, hoping.
To those of us prone to wander, to those who are broken, to those who flee and fight in fear – which is every last lost one of us – there is a faith that offers hope. And may love have the last word. Now and forever. Amen.
Thanks for reading.
Issue 90 (November 26, 2021)