M. Regina Cram
For Deacon Martin Jacques, my hero.
I recently reached the milestone birthday of half a century, which prompted some random musings . . .
1. Never go from one room to another empty-handed.
2. Teach your young son to be a gentleman, even if you have to use bubblegum to bribe him. By the time he’s 20, he’ll be the most popular guy on campus.
3. If you have to give someone constructive criticism, do it orally, NOT in writing. Keep it brief.
4. When you have positive feedback to deliver, do it in writing. You may want to give a copy to the person’s supervisor as well.
5. Never lie. Never. There is no such thing as a white lie. If it would break a confidence to answer someone’s question, simply decline to answer. But never lie. Never.
6. Do not treat the oldest child with unreasonable strictness, nor allow the youngest child to be undisciplined. And be sure to take photographs of the youngest kid.
7. Sign up for every possible carpool during your kids’ teen years. If you’re quiet enough as you drive, they’ll forget you’re there.
8. Count how many times you complain or criticize in one week. If it’s more than three, it’s too often.
9. Attend wakes and funerals. You will never regret paying respects to a loved one or to his or her family.
10. Memorize your parents’ birthdays. You’ll be surprised how many times the information comes in handy.
11. Don’t let your kids date until they are 16, and make yours the home where teens hang out. It will cost you in groceries, but it’s cheaper than drug treatment or family therapy.
12. Pray. God loves to hear your voice.
13. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Even if what you’re saying is true, it’s still gossip if it’s unkind.
14. Never interrupt a compliment.
15. Visit your grandmother in the nursing home. If you no longer have a grandmother, visit someone else’s grandmother.
16. Treat everyone with kindness, including people you do not like. Especially people you do not like.
18. If you’re married, go on a date once a week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a weekly time together.
19. Tithe. It is truly easier to live on 90 percent of your income than it is to live on 100 percent.
20. Never complain to someone’s supervisor until you have first directed your concern to the person himself or herself. And keep it civil. ALWAYS keep it civil.
21. Let your kids take risks. Then let them bear the consequences.
22. Go to confession at least once a month. More if you’re married.
23. Don’t give an instruction to your child unless you plan to enforce it. And when you do give an instruction, don’t ask the child if it’s okay. It’s usually not okay with the child, but that’s irrelevant.
24. Donuts help make everything a little bit better.
25. Use sunscreen. If you die from a lightning strike, so be it, but dying because you can’t be bothered to use sunscreen is shameful.
26. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” My grandmother was one smart lady.
27. Use cloth diapers, and launder them yourself. Yes, I’m serious.
28. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ.” No kidding.
29. Don’t sleep with your boyfriend (or girlfriend) before marriage. Make up for lost time after you’re married.
31. If your parents are still alive, call or visit every week.
32. Teach your kids that life is not fair. Sometimes there are four kids and only three lollipops. The sooner they learn this, the better.
33. Go to Mass every Sunday, and get there 10 minutes early to settle yourself down. Stay for 10 minutes after it’s over.
35. Married couples, use Natural Family Planning. It’s not messy, intrusive, or risky. It binds together husband and wife, is extremely effective, and it drastically reduces the likelihood of divorce. What’s not to like?
36. If your destination is less than two miles away, walk.
37. Treat teenagers like real human beings – because they are real human beings.
38. At the end of a long, successful career, no one ever laments, “I wish I had spent more time in meetings.” Too often, however, people regret, “I wish I had spent more time with my family.”
39. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.
Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.