When I was a child waiting for Christmas to arrive, time dragged on forever. Every single day had at least 72 hours in it; some, more. The closer to Christmas Day we got, the longer the days grew. During those days I worked conscientiously at doing everything Mama told me to. Even when the rain fell in sheets, I ran to the wood pile and brought back armloads of wood for the fireplace. Without complaint, I washed dishes immediately after each meal. I bit my tongue and refrained from arguing with my sister, no matter how obnoxious she became. The whole process was a lesson in patience for me.
I guess I inherited what iota of patience I did have from my father because my mother had none—except with small children and animals, that is. She wanted everything done immediately and barked orders like a drill sergeant.
“Mary Ann, I told you five minutes ago to wash those dishes. Why isn’t it done yet?”
Over the span of my life I’ve learned to be patient. With a career in teaching, how could I exist if I hadn’t learned? Teachers must wait until the end of the month for payday. We must abide by mandates from the state and federal governments, even when we see glaring flaws in those orders. Eventually those mandates will change, but in the meantime, we must be patient and do the best we can. Most of all, teachers must deal with children every weekday. We can be patient with children, leave the profession, or take powerful tranquilizers. There aren’t many other options.
Now that I think about it, the lack of patience may be the main reason that such a large percentage of Americans are on antidepressants. We buy new cars on the installment plan, and before we can get them paid for, they’re worn out and we must start all over again. Cars are necessities, for the most part, but consider the number of things that we buy that we really don’t need. We’re impatient for THINGS, so we overindulge on our credit cards. We buy, buy, buy, and then wonder why we’re so far in debt.
Furthermore, we hate to stand in line. We’ll change doctors if we have to wait too long. We’ll put down our purchases and stalk out of a store if the line’s too long. Ironically, we’ll stand in line at Disney World or Six Flags in July heat for the thrill of a roller coaster ride, but we’ll give up our favorite doctor if he takes too long to get around to us. It never occurs to us that the doctor is spending quality time with another patient—the same quality time we like so much if it is expended on us.
This pattern of impatience has created the current American Way that very few of us are happy with. A generous dose of patience could cure many of our national ills.
As I’ve aged, I’ve been forced to learn some patience. Many things cannot be rushed—the birth of a child, the cure for cancer, or the healing of a broken bone, just to name a few. Waiting for Christmas is no longer a problem because it seems that just as I’ve taken my tree down and stored it, it’s time to put it up again. My smaller grandsons don’t think so. I listen to their complaints every time I talk to them.
“Grandma, now when is Christmas?” Jakey asked when he was here for Thanksgiving. “Four weeks! Oh, no. That’s way too long. I can’t wait that long.”
While I was out and about shopping for presents this year, I took just a minute to pen a quick note to Santa that went something like this:
When you fly over Pine Grove this year with your sleigh full of Legos and Batmen, if you could leave a little something in a stocking for me (Grandma), I’d appreciate it. I don’t need any coloring books or crayons, no new clothes or jewelry. Just leave me a small sack of patience to go along with the little I already have. You just can’t have too much. Thanks, Santa.