Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who's Holding the Cards?

Sometimes you can think you are winning when really someone else is holding the cards you need to succeed.
amanky via photopin cc

Your great-grandpa had a devious streak to him.  One time while camping at Yosemite National Park we were playing a card game in the evening.  In the game, Pit, you all try to get a hand full of the exact same card by trading the cards you don't want with other players.  Everyone trades at the same time by holding cards face down and shouting out the number of cards they have to trade. It's loud and hectic and crazy and fun.

So there we are at the picnic table in the campground frantically swapping cards.  I'm getting excited because I only need one card to have a complete hand full of Barley for the win.  I keep shouting "one, one, one, one, one" as I hold out the corn card that I need to trade away.  And I keep grabbing a card from another player, glance at it eagerly only to see that it isn't Barley but yet another Corn.  So I try again, yelling just a little bit louder.  I trade again, and again it is Corn.  But I'm so close to winning.

Almost everyone at the table is frantic just like me.  Everyone is trading one card only.  And that one card is always Corn.  But we are all so caught up in the fact the we are about to win if we just get the one right card that none of us notice this fact.

Suddenly Dad starts laughing.  We all keep trading our single Corn cards around the table sure we will win any second.  Dad laughs harder.  We look at him with annoyance.

"Just stop"  he says.  "None of you can win."  He exposes his hand which contains precisely one of each of the cards.  There is my desired Barley, along with mom's longed for Wheat, my sister's needed Rye and so on.

"I wanted to see how long it would take you to realize that none of you could win.  I figured eventually you would realize that you were all trading the same card.  Finally I gave up on you ever figuring it out."  He laughed some more as we all sat there chagrined.

When we calmed down, we continued on with the game briefly until the park ranger arrived to tell us to cut it out for the night as we were disturbing the other campers.

Sometimes you can be so focused on a goal and think you are so close that you can miss all the obvious signs around you that someone else is holding the cards and you can't succeed just by doing more of the same thing you have been doing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Labeling People is Bad: But Useful

Dear future grandkids,

Labeling people is bad.  No one should be pigeon holed by a brief word or phrase.  We are all more complex than that.
BasicallyAdvanced via photopin cc

But we all do it all the time.  Because it is useful.  It helps us organize and keep straight the vast number of people we interact with.

So for the purposes of this blog I'm going to use labels for my family members.  Because even though you, my future grandkids know them and will be able to identify them, this blog is public and I want them to have their privacy.

So, here are the labels I intend to use:

The Professor.  This is my much loved husband of over two decades.  He isn't really a professor but after much family discussion we agreed that this was the best one word to use.

"But it makes me think of the professor on Gillian's Island," my professor complained.

"Exactly," I said,  "You are smart, charming, and good at creating many useful contraptions out of limited resources."

And now we'll have to find a copy of Gillian's Island to show the kids whose pop culture indoctrination has apparently been seriously lacking.

Oldest Girl.  My oldest daughter, a teenager.  Frankly this one was the hardest to come up with.  So many words came to mind but nothing seemed quite right.  But she is a classic oldest child--responsible, high achiever, a bit perfectionist.

Music Girl.  The middle child, also a teenager.  She is many things as well, but music is a passion for her.  She does band and chorus in school and fills much of her time with music.

Imagination Boy.  My pre-teen.  This boy has been good at entertaining himself since birth.  Some children have imaginary friends, he had imaginary universes complete with their own physical laws.

So there you go, my immediate family.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Write Now?

photo credit: Julie Edgley via photopin cc

Dear future grandkids,

No, I'm not dying.  Or rather I'm unaware of any immanent demise or debilitating illness that would make me be unable to address you in person.  And frankly given that my children, your future parents, haven't even finished high school I hope it is a long time before you make an appearance.

But even though I hope to live a long and healthy life and have years and years to spend with you telling you all the family stories and passing along the admittedly limited wisdom God gave me, I don't want to wait just because you aren't here yet.

Almost a year ago now my father died.  I was blessed enough to be able to spend a lot of time with him in the final year.  I had time to ask those questions I had always wanted to ask.  I had time to hear those stories of his childhood and young adult years that he wanted to share.  I had the gift of knowing that death was coming and I had time to prepare and say goodbye.

But it wasn't enough time.

Often I find myself thinking of Dad and wishing I could ask him another question.  There are still so many stories I never heard, advise I can no longer seek out.

So my letters to you, my future hypothetical grandchildren (and great grandchildren, and great, great, and so on), and to anyone else who cares to read.