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Work &  Play

Work & Play

Hello and good day!

A tall, skinny old man walks gingerly up the steep gravel driveway. He knocks on the front door and shouts, "hello! hello!". Nobody hears him from the inside because his knocking and shouting aren't loud enough to overcome the uproarious laughter.

He tries again.

The laughter dies down for a moment and the owner of the house hears her neighbor outside. She opens the door. "I brought you apples from my apple tree!" says the old man. He is excited and smiling, happy to once again renew the annual tradition. Every year he brings the first ripe apples from his trees for this neighbor.

A boom of laughter bellows out from the dining room. "You're busy. Sorry to interrupt. I wanted to give you the first apples of the year," says the old man. He hands a white plastic bag filled with apples to the woman and turns to walk away.

"No, no, don't go," says the woman. "Come in." "I don't want to impose," says the man. "My family is here from out of town, and they are a rowdy bunch. But I'm sure they'd love to meet you. Come in," says the woman.

"Ok," says the old man. He steps through the door into the entry way. The children of the house see him and come running. "Did you bring the apples? Did you bring the apples?" they shout, grabbing his hands and searching for the fruit.

"I gave it to your mother," he says. His eyes are glittering, and he has a smile on his face. He looks forward to this moment all year. He loves it when the kids see him and search his hands. It's part of the tradition.

"Come in," says the woman. The old man walks up the entryway stairs into the living room.

"These are my brothers and my sister-in-law and my nephew," says the woman. They all shake hands and exchange pleasantries.

"Our neighbor brings us the first apples from his trees every year. Isn't that wonderful?" says the woman. "Fantastic. Back home where we live, nobody does that kind of thing," says one of the brothers.

"How many trees do you have?" asks the other. "I have five mature trees in my garden," says the old man. "Five mature trees? I'd love to see those," says a brother. "Me too," says the other brother. "Well, come on over if you want to," says the old man.

"Right now?" asks a brother. "Sure, why not," says the old man. The woman, her three sons, her two brothers, her sister-in-law, and her nephew dash for the entrance all at once. There is a frenzy of putting on shoes. One at a time, they gather into a group on the driveway.

"We're forgetting something," says the woman.   She can't put her finger on it. Everybody watches as she snaps her fingers and thinks."I've got it!" she says. "What?" asks the sister-in-law."My husband! Maybe he wants to come with us. He loves to visit the garden and see the apple trees," says the woman.

She runs back inside and into her husband's home office. His face is scrunched up with concentration. He is in the middle of challenging work.

"Honey," says the wife.The husband is shaken out of his focus and is confused at first. "Yes?" says the husband, with a lost look on his face. "We're going to see the apple trees up the road. The whole family is going. Would you like to come?" says the wife.

The husband looks out the window and sees the group gathered. The old man is talking, and the rest of the family is gathered around laughing. The children are running in circles, frolicking.

"I wish I could, but I can't. I have to work," says the husband. It pains him to say those words. Going with the family to see the beautiful garden near the lake sounds like the best thing in the world. The sun is shining outside but it isn't too hot. A cool breeze is blowing through the trees, twittering the leaves. It rained recently and the lake is full and robust and blue. A sweet apple plucked fresh from the tree would hit the spot. And to do it all surrounded by family would be the icing on the cake.

"I'm sorry, I just can't. I have a lot of work to do here, and then I have to spend the afternoon on-site with the team," says the husband. "I know honey, I just want to make sure you don't feel left out," says the woman.

"Thank you. You all will enjoy yourselves today. You don't need me there," says the husband. The woman walks out and joins the group on the driveway. From his window, the husband watches the merry group walk down the driveway to the road.They turn and walk out of view.

He takes a deep breath and continues on with his work.

In the afternoon, the group visits tourist attractions, eats in a nice restaurant, and has a wonderful time. The man arrives at the work site on schedule and works late, missing out on all the fun.

Learning how to sacrifice is an important part of life. I'd argue that this is one of the key philosophical attributes that distinguishes adults from children. A mature adult understands that hard work is a necessary prerequisite for good times to occur. And many times, a mature adult's reward for their hard work is nothing more than knowing that they provided for their loved ones. They don't actually get to participate in the good times themselves.

This reminds me of the bible text about there being a time for everything. There is a time for sowing and a time for reaping. You don't get to reap without sowing.

If you've been a hard-working person who has sacrificed and strived to build a good life for yourself and those you care about, I salute you. The world needs as many good, responsible, mature adults as we can get.

Thank you so much for your time today. I hope that you have a truly blessed day!