This is the season of giving gifts, particularly to children and other family members. But those of us who are parents have the opportunity, indeed the obligation, to give to our children another gift all year round. It is the gift of ourselves. I offer a few examples from my family.
Of course, every family is different and will have their own examples. By sharing these examples we can help each other out. If you have examples to share with others my email address is shown below. Or you can send an email to this paper at email@example.com.
After my mother finished her four years of college, she took on another two years of study concentrating on teaching vocal music in public schools. Before her marriage she practiced that profession for about a decade. After her marriage, and as she raised her children she brought music into the home. At Christmastime she sat down at he upright piano and accompanied the family while we sang the familiar carols of the season. The rest of the year she encouraged us to pursue musical studies. Her eldest child studied piano, the next in line studied harp one summer in a school run by famous harpist Salzedo and the last in line (me, the lazy one) chose to sing in church choirs and school choruses including the Schola Cantorum at the University of San Francisco. In fact, I continued church choir participation until I became too feeble to drive to choir practice.
My father, a military officer, pursued his interest in national affairs and political matters. He led the family debates on these subjects at the dinner table. After retirement he ordered the New York Times Sunday edition, and spent the week after it arrived reading it from cover to cover.
The lazy one took pleasure in writing letters to the editor and later wrote op-ed columns on a regular basis in this paper from September 2004 to this date. I also wrote for the Carroll Eagle while it existed. Politics, local and national, is usually the topic.
My great uncle, Robert Culliton (note spelling) when old was nearly blind. Sometimes I helped guide him on his walks. As I guided him to visit a friend some blocks away he cautioned me; “Johnny this fellow is an old friend, we were friends as boys, but be careful what you say, he is terribly Republican.”
This caution also applies many decades later when discussing things with our own grown children.
But we are not the only parents in the family. One of our middle-aged sons discovered that his education in such necessary skills such as handwriting and the multiplication tables had been dropped from the curriculum of the Carroll County schools. He taught those necessities to his children. He also tested them on their spelling words.
He made it his business to be in contact with teachers so that he got emails listing homework assignments as needed. He made it clear that school study was priority one, ahead of sports and fishing in the reservoir. Misbehavior in the classroom is strictly forbidden. The teacher is always right.
Children tend to copy their parents, particularly their vices. Also they learn bad habits from their peers in schools. If you smoke, they will also. If you drink too much, they are likely to copy that vice. If you cheat on your taxes or sneer at people not like you, they will do the same.
Finally, this is usually a political column. So here is a political note. If the president of the most powerful nation on Earth acts like a thoroughly spoiled child — telling lies, contradicting himself, failing to study history, hiring crooks for offices which they are not qualified, consorting with our known enemies, abandoning our faithful friends, seeking ways to avoid being punished for his misdeeds, claiming to be smarter than everyone else concerning subjects he hasn’t bothered to study, cheating on his spouse, abusing women — then we must find a way to remove him from office.
Our party affiliations don’t matter, his character does.
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Best wishes for the New Year.