December brings a feeling of expectancy and celebration mingled with anxiety and dread if you are on a college campus.
The semester is almost over, but the final exam and culminating project are looming large in the minds of most undergrads.
My general psychology class has been a particularly exceptional bunch of kids and I wanted to offer a bit of extra credit to them in exchange for their consistent effort during the semester. I offer extra credit when I think that most students are working hard and yet some may have difficulty showing how well they understand the material through static assessments such as chapter tests.
One assignment offered to them was to write their obituary, which I assigned close to All Saints Day in hopes of capturing their attention. Sounds morbid, but actually I think it is a hopeful assignment.
I would rather these young people look at their lives now and decide to continue on course because it is just what they wanted, or put on the brakes and change direction, or speed up their adventures or slow them down to enjoy the proverbial daisies.
I guess I was giving them a Scrooge moment.
I was pleasantly surprised when I read several of them. No one mentioned the procurement of stuff, though most mentioned travelling quite a bit. Most saw themselves living well into their 90s and most of those died peacefully in their sleep.
Their future soul mates were mentioned along with the children that marriage might bring. Many of the students wanted to be remembered for helping others and bringing smiles to faces.
Everyone mentioned the many “good” lifelong friends that would fondly remember him or her. Some brought up their careers and how they had been honored for touching so many lives.
My final question on the assignment was: “Is there anything you would change now that you have completed the task?” There were almost no regrets. Amazing!
I thought back on a time a year or so ago when we were dealing with some fairly difficult financial times. I was not in the best of moods and the usual argument in the household was about money.
My increasingly wise mother said, “Don’t fight over money, it is not worth it.”
She added, “after all in the end all you really have are memories and they don’t depend entirely on finances.” She is so on target.
The upcoming holiday season is fraught with purchasing and overextending both emotional and financially. Someone asked me if I was going out for the “deals” on Black Friday.
My response is simple - there is nothing I would stand in line for, miss sleep over, or go over my head in hock for in any store.
And you know who is swept right into the charge - and I do mean charge! Our children are looking to us to model the proper behavior. In our home, we celebrate Christmas and we each receive three gifts among ourselves. One is something you want, another is something you need (usually – yikes - underwear or other cothing) and the last is a surprise (this one is from Mr. Kris Kringle). If we have extra monetary supplies leftover we use it to help a less fortunate family. And today that family may live next door.
So this season, I challenge you to find your Scrooge and turn him around. Find someone who needs your help and have the courage to charge in and just do it.
Wrap your tinsel around that.