The perfect amount. The right balance. Just right.
What a beautiful word for this time of year.
There are so many words associated with the holiday season that evoke an emotional, sometimes visceral, response: joy, peace, love, family, presents, stockings, cookies….! Enough is one of those words we often say this time of year, but it’s usually preceded by “not”. Think of it: How many times have you looked at the mountain of gifts you’ve purchased for your children or other family members and friends and thought, “It’s not enough. If only I could get one more.” It seems we always want more in the holiday season. More presents, more time, more money.
But none of those things bring the peace and contentment of simply having enough. Enough to meet our needs. Enough grace for the moment. Enough friends to make our lives full.
Some people say there is never enough. But the very definition of the word is “as much or as many as required.” Excess, in fact, is what often leads to sorrow and devastation, broken families and the loss of friends.
I was reflecting on this as I listened to a song by my favorite up-and-coming Texas singer-songwriter from Harlingen who I met during my time there as superintendent. His Mom was an elementary principal (she’s currently a superintendent in the RGV) and his Dad was a high school coach. His name is Alex Coba and his song “Enough” has such sweet, simple lyrics about a man striving to provide enough for his family. Just enough. Because it’s clear that the family in this song doesn’t need much — they have love and faith and each other and, where everything else is concerned, they need just enough and no more.
It reminded me of my time growing up in San Angelo in a home with six children and my hard-working parents. I know I’ve shared with you my experience growing up in a poor home — how I didn’t know I was poor because our little home was always filled with laughter and love. We may have been poor by the standards of others, but we never went without. Our refrigerator wasn’t full, but it always had food and there was always enough. No one went hungry and no one was ever deprived. Did my brothers and sisters and I have to work hard to earn anything extra we might want? You bet we did. But that in itself was a gift. It made me who I am. It taught me the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, and the satisfaction of earning something rather than having it handed to you. You see, being a child of poverty isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you understand the meaning and more importantly the feeling of having enough. There are those that have more than others, but that doesn’t mean they truly have more than others.
By the way, I believe that you can tell if you come from a large family by how fast you eat. Don’t get me wrong, Mom always prepared enough to feed a family of eight, but the only chance for the little that sometimes was left over was eating all that was on your plate. So, my brothers and I would race through our first serving in order to get one more tortilla, papas, or frijoles (staples at every dinner). We learned the concept of enough without any fancy lecture or discussion. Unfortunately, I still eat too fast.
As we wind down 2019 and prepare to spend the season with family and friends, my hope for you is that when you feel yourself getting caught up in the stress of shopping, the one-upmanship of gift-giving, the anxiety of making sure every guest is taken care of, that you take a moment, take a breath, and whisper to yourself “enough.” Because you are enough. Your family is enough. Love is enough.
I challenge you to consider this option, instead of ONE more present to a recipient that has enough, discuss with them the importance of giving to those in need. Allow one gift from you to them to be a donation to a charity or non-profit of their choice or a gift to someone who may not otherwise receive a single gift. Love, in my opinion, should never be determined by the stack of presents one gives or receives, but it can be measured by the gratitude in your heart or the gift of time you give to those who need you the most!
I hope you have a fantastic weekend and rest up for this last, busy week before the winter break.
Enough for now. Thanks for reading. I’ll write again soon.
Steve Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools