Because this is the season of Thanksgiving and because the word treasure has been mine during this bizarre year in history, I want to take an opportunity to share my 2020 Treasures.
The first one has to do with engagement.
This summer we received a video call from our oldest son and his girlfriend announcing their engagement. We knew it was coming. I had enthusiastically volunteered to help my future daughter-in-law narrow down her ring choices. Based on the array of options, I jokingly concluded that my son could give her a ring from a vending machine, and she would say, “yes.” He didn’t do that of course. He bought her a ring that expresses her with its unique, intricate beauty. He found a ring that expresses what I hope is their unique, intricate journey as a couple. One of my repeated requests to my sons in the choosing of their future spouses is that they would choose wisely. My oldest son has made his choice, and I believe she is a wise one. Part of the reason I know this is because it wasn’t about the ring. It was about the person giving it and the person receiving it.
Another part of the reason I know this is because I spent last weekend with them. When I was invited to join them for a bridal expo, I accepted. Yet, we anticipated correctly that the event would be canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. No matter. Come anyway. Go to the bridal shop for the finding of the dress. Come anyway. Because.
I went. I had the unique, intricate opportunity to engage with their friends, some of her family, and with her dress decision process. I had the privilege of watching them navigate their life as a couple and of sharing my personal hopes for and expectations of them.
Perhaps the third reason was stowed in my carry-on. Before the dress shopping, I placed a green jewelry box in front of this young lady and watched her open it to reveal the sapphire necklace my mother gave to me when my son was born. I wore it a few times, but I always knew it would some day go to the woman who would take care of my son until death parted them. It is my heirloom given to her as a reminder of my expectation that she will do that. As the necklace as been hers in my mind (not knowing who she was at the time), now so is my son (knowing him all his life and who he needs in a wife) going to be hers. While this young woman knows more about accounting than I ever will or desire to understand, this was a transaction of accountability. Based on the conversations throughout the weekend (and before), I hope they understand I intend to keep up my part of the bargain. I hope they also know I will do whatever I can to ensure those exchanges are done with unconditional love.
As I think about the word engagement, the antithesis comes to mind. This year has also been a year of disengagement for many people. There may have been promises we couldn’t keep because of a disease impacting every decision within every home. There may have been dreams we have had to forego because of canceled plans. There may be moments when we take the opportunity to engage–while wearing masks, at a distance, over video calls–because we simply don’t know what’s next.
Much like my son and his bride-to-be’s engagement will be longer than I would prefer, I am coming to terms with reality about the current conditions within our society. We may have seen some things coming. But, there are so many other things we didn’t that need to be resolved. Like a young couple preparing for the big event, we have a lot of housekeeping to do. What ought to be kept? What is better given away? What is better to be thrown out because it is broken or no longer needed? What needs to be replaced with something new? How do we remain engaged with our true treasures and disengage with what ought to fade away?
This time is an opportunity to get to know who we are going to be in preparation for our big “what’s next” event. This is our privilege to express our expectations and increase our accountability to one another. This is our chance to ensure our exchanges with one another include the intrinsic value of unconditional love. I, for one, intend to keep up my part of the bargain.