It’s funny, after all these years I can still remember their names: Judy and Carolyn! There were times when they made the promise they’d be my friend if I ….. did something specific. Nothing horrible, thankfully; but the promise was always short lived. It’s interesting that it took me so long to understand the rejection had more to do with wealth (or the lack of it) than anything! It might have made things easier if I could have gotten that message back then! I didn’t have the “childhood epiphany”!
Another friend tells the story how as a fourth grader she was asked by one of her peers to play with her at recess. Delighted, she agreed. In the meantime, another opportunity presented itself for entertainment at recess and she joined in. The first friend not only did not forget her invitation and my friend’s acceptance, but boldly reminded the girl of the promise. This incident set a precedence for the rest of her life. Whether or not my friend considered the effect of this as a “childhood epiphany” I don’t know, but she found it excessively difficult to not keep her word after that incident, once she made a commitment.
Integrity is something we seem to have lost in our very busy social lives. It’s easy to make a promise and then brush it off as unimportant. Often the promise is made to placate an impatient child, or even the adult we’d really prefer not to deal with at the moment. It may be as simple as saying, “I can’t talk now, but I’ll call you this week.”
Sometimes the promise is honestly made in good faith, with the full intent of follow through. But life has a way of “presenting other opportunities” or creating havoc in ways we didn’t consider happening, and throwing all our good intentions right out the window!
What about the promise of Santa? Our intent is to liven up the Christmas holidays with the spirit of “good will” and secrets tinged with excitement. We promise our children if they are good, Santa will come visit them, coming right down the chimney, leaving gifts they’ve dreamed of all season, and all because they promise to be good!
Are we teaching our children that a “promise” is only to be used when we want something, and isn’t real at all? After all, they do eventually learn that Santa is a fictional character. Are we “toying” with our integrity as parents? I admit our children lived the “Santa story.” Why can’t Santa be seen like Winnie The Pooh, or Mickey Mouse? They can be characters to love, but purely fictional.
As we move towards the Christmas holiday, consider your integrity as you deal with children and even adults. Are you promising something you cannot fulfill? Are you giving a “conditional” promise? What do your promises say about you? What will be the result of a "childhood epiphany" if your promise is broken?