It’s early morning on Christmas Eve as I write this. My adult kids are home and a few other family members will arrive later today. My wife will spend most of today in the kitchen preparing a feast for dinner later today. My daughter arrived home from Phoenix yesterday and later today we will resume a cherished Father/Daughter tradition of last-minute Christmas shopping.
I didn’t intend for this to become an annual tradition when we started it very long ago. It’s just that we were the only two people in the family courageous enough to venture into the chaos and traffic of shoppers. As a young adult living thousands of miles away, an uninterrupted day with just me and my daughter is becoming a rare thing. An old Steven Covey quote that I share frequently summarizes it best. “Quality time comes in the middle of quantity time.”
Quality time will emerge in the conversation today. It will happen somewhere in the middle of getting a morning coffee and finding a bargain tv to replace the old, “un-smart” one in our family room. We’ll talk about the more serious stuff of life. We’ll laugh about the dents in our past and we’ll talk about the shiny promise of the future. We’ll sort out the things that are certain and things that aren’t.
We’ll talk about the aspects of life that require belief.
There’s stuff in life that we can know. Certain things that are concrete and factual like math, taxes and putting gas (or electricity) in your car so you can drive to the mall. There is much in life that we cannot know. The weather, flight delays, how long our health will last. We live our daily life within this spectrum of the concrete and the unknowable. Our busy life routines can numb us into a complacent, disconnected reality until something unexpected happens to shake us from the numbness. Jon Dockery, a fellow partner at LeConte (and overall great guy) wrote an insightful piece on how to reduce financial worries. I suggest you read it.
Personally, 2023 gave me a greater number of personal joy, challenges and tragedies to deal with. The unexpected passing of friends that I was close in age to. The anticipation of my second grandchild early next year and more doctors’ visits than I’ve ever had in a twelve-month timeframe. I’m certain you can relate.
2024 will be here in just a few days. The Federal Reserve has teased some interest rate cuts next year. Investment markets will go up and down. Summer will be hot. Famous people will die. Voters, wearied and worn by an avalanche of campaign nonsense, will still make our way to the voting booths in November. My family will gather again next December. My grandkids will believe in Santa Claus and that elf on the shelf.
When unexpected events challenge my contentment, I find peace in my faith. It’s the framework that motivates me to make a difference and leave a legacy of joy and humility in the middle of this life’s chaos. It’s what I believe. It’s the hope that I carry that justice prevails in the end and the future is worth walking into with eternal joy. To Jon’s point about worry: you and I are here on earth for a purpose and it’s not to fret over all of the stuff we can’t control.
God willing, next December I’ll be waking up on Christmas Eve to get ready to shop with my daughter. If not, I believe I’ll be spending quantity time and quality time with the Creator.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.