The Gift of Quality Time

Family cartoon

The Gift of Quality Time

I just got off the phone with my 89 year old father-in-law as​ he was rushing off to work (yes, he’s still working daily ​as a psychologist)​.​ He​ wanted to let me know about an article that appeared in this week’s Sunday New York Times. He said columnist Frank Bruni wrote a beautiful piece about…., and before he could finish, I blurted out “The Myth of Quality Time”. I had in fact read it online and distributed to my immediate family​;​ it is a wonderfully written piece about the necessity​ of time spent with family.

This piece came out at a perfect time for me. We had just spent three weeks on vacation in two locations in Northern Italy and Switzerland. Our vacationing style is to find a suitable apartment, pack ​a​ pot, pan and basic supplies and live amongst the locals. This type of travelling usually requires a daily trip to the super or vegetable markets and the evenings are filled with creative and time consuming food preparation.  My wife and I were accompanied by my father-in-law​, two of my daughters (25 and 16) and another daughter who happened to be working for a few days in Milan​,​ who arranged to join us for 2​ days. Our family ​moves slowly in the morning while on vacation, which led me to say to the daughter who was coming from Milan, “we don’t pack that much activity in during a typical day”, to​ which she responded, “packing a lot of activities in a day is overrated”. She was speaking specifically of vacations in Italy!  When she said that, it struck me that she was right. Vacation mode means by definition ​“​going​ with the flow”. We had many pleasant drives, hikes, meals on our porch and time together. We laughed, napped, yelled (when we missed a turn-off) but generally just enjoyed the pleasure of  hanging out together.

Most of my friends and colleagues raised their eyebrows when I informed them of the length of our vacation plans. I heard the following, “How can you get away for so long?”, “Won’t you be bored?”, “Won’t you drive each other crazy?” In fact we did not drive each other crazy, did not get bored (even on two​ very long rainy​ Shabbatot), and I learned the value and pleasure of just being. Our lives are so sped-up​ these days, that the opportunities to “chill” seem to be few and far between. I recall childhood summers​ as a laid back time that even adults took advantage of, but​ we seem to have lost that ability. I don’t know when​ I will be next be privileged​ to take such a vacation​,​ but I know that doing so is perhaps the best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones. These thoughts inspired me to put my Rosh Hashanah greeting in a video format this year.

I hope you enjoy it and that my wishes for you come true.

Shana Tova V’ K’tivah Tova,

Philip



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