Monday, May 20, 2013

Money Cannot Buy the Perfect Graduation Gift

The perfect graduation gift has no monetary value. It something only an open heart and hand can give. It is the freedom to fly and fall, then fly again.
My husband was a high school principal and we are the parents of 3 children and 12 grandchildren. We know what graduation means and how important it is to families across our nation. It is a right of passage for families and a wonderful privilege. 

This time sees parents feeling that twinge of relief and regret all at once. The empty nest looms and they are hoping that they have raised their child to be ready for what is to come next. Their guidance is more important now than it ever was but finding a way to communicate with their child also difficult. 

On the other hand the grandparents are less useful than they have been in the past. Where do my husband and I fit into this mix at this point in our life?  The truth is we are only onlooking-perfect-gift-givers and smilers this time around.

The dilemma we face now is knowing what that perfect gift is. We have a son graduating with his Master Degree in Business and his daughter is graduating from high school and facing her college years. We also have a grandson getting ready to finish basic training in the Marines. All are big occasions in our family's life... commencements for both the children and their families. We have such high hopes. This gift giving season is more important than any other. We want to present the graduates with something they can hold on to for the rest of their life but the perfect gift is not tangible.

I am aware that my gift may be chosen because it reflects what I hope our young people will do with their life when I should be honoring what the children see as their future. I remind myself that each child must find their own way in their own way. The difficult thing for my husband and I is that we know too much.  We are full of information and advice, none of it wanted or, in the view of the youngers, even useful. We are relegated to watching. It is hard.

When my youngest son received his Masters Degree this week, the commencement speaker said something I liked a lot. He said, "Don't be afraid to take risks because the only person that will remember a failure is you. But more importantly, many successes are built on the rubble of failure." I liked that a lot.

In truth, the thought I am having now is that I should not worry so much. If people a lot wiser than myself know that a misstep is not a bad thing, then I should embrace the risks my children and their children take. They are strong and smart. They will be fine.

So I think that the perfect gift is not money or a worldly possession. The most valuable of gifts cannot be held in your hand.

A box containing "hope" and "surprises" would be perfect.  It could contain "moving on cards" that allow them to forgive themselves for what they see is as not good enough. It would be filled with "courage" and "laughter" and above all "kindness". "Work ethic" would top the box off to over flowing.  Oh, and there would be "ideas" and "creativity" too.  That is what I would like to give. After all, life is very short and in the end it is about a huge passion and love for the journey. 

While I know money cannot buy those things nor is there a box big enough to hold them, I also know that with our encouragement the child can find these gifts inside their own head and heart. That is where my husband and I fit in this picture. I remain hopeful.


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