Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday's Words for February 18, 2009

This Monday just passed was the second ever “Family Day” holiday in the province of Ontario. For years, there had been talk of instituting an additional paid “statutory” holiday here, and last year it finally happened.

First, I’ll explain that in Canada we have a set of holidays that are ‘statutory’, which means mandated by law. Now, businesses may function on these days, but full time employees who do not get these days off must be paid a premium (usually double their regular hourly wage) to work them. Prior to this new holiday, we had 9 stat holidays – and now we have 10.

I don’t know how many people used the day to indulge in family-oriented activities. I imagine quite a few. Today’s younger parents seem more interested in getting to know their children as people than previous generations did. I can remember my mother muttering something like ‘children should be seen and not heard’. I don’t think it was bad behaviour on my part that inspired that sentiment. It was just that the times were different.

Today’s parent seems more “into” their children. They spend more money enrolling them in sports and social activities; seem more inclined to take the time to re-arrange their own schedules and then ensure their child is ferried about. They seem to know, more than my mother did and certainly more than I did that children need to be kept busy, their minds engaged, and their bodies active.

Yes, I know there are still a lot of parents who spend little or no time with their children. That is unfortunate. It’s likely considered more than just “unfortunate” to those adults who long for children but, for whatever reason, have none. But that’s life, isn’t it? Often those who are blessed with abundance in however that term may be defined, seem insensitive to how lucky they really are.

In the Ashbury household, the concept of family day hasn’t yet taken hold. We none of us lead what you could call busy social or active lives. We’re at work, or school, or we’re at home, and that’s that. Well, except for me. I’m at home, or at home. This is a fairly small house with four very distinct individual humans living in it. We have, between us, five computers, three televisions, four game systems, and a few thousand books.

There’s not much room left for dancing.

Free time is vegetating time, I’m afraid. If any one of us were to suddenly suggest to the others that we go for a hike, or a car ride, or some other out of our little box fun activity, the other three would look askance and then hunt up the thermometer.

I suppose that comes from merging what were two distinct family units into one. The merge isn’t—nor really should it be—absolute. But for the most part, we get along, and can manage to be happily occupied in the same space, individually.

I did notice families out and about together on Monday when I snuck out of the house—alone—and sped off for a cup of coffee-to-go from Timmies on my way to the grocery store.

There were couples out walking, parents and kids out bicycling. We have two rivers in our small town, and in the spring and summer there’s a lot of activity on the water, either canoes or fishing. Not so much this time of year. Recent rains and snow melt have caused a rise in the water level, which in turn speeds the flow of the water, making it dangerous.

We have a portion of what’s referred to as the “rail trail” that runs through here, too. It’s a hiking/bicycling trail that was created when old, no longer used train tracks were removed.

For one moment there on Monday afternoon, while the sun was shining brightly in the pretty blue sky, and as I looked at those happy faces of family members sharing the fresh air, exercise, and joyous time together, I thought, maybe I should just go home and invite everyone out for a walk.

But the urge passed. Just as well. I hate being laughed at.

Come see my first guest blog ever!
February 23, 2009 here:

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