View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Watch out for retirement

I went to a retirement party last night. It was a pleasant evening, and, as they often do at such celebrations, they presented the retiree with the gift of a watch.

I smiled and applauded with the rest of the gathered friends and former coworkers.

Then I began to wonder: Why is it traditional to give a retiree a watch?

After all, the person being honored is leaving the world of work, and so will be less subject to the demands of time. The person doesn’t necessarily have to be any set place at a specific time each day. He can set his own schedule. He doesn’t have to worry about being late.

Moreover, since the retiree is being honored for years of work, we can assume that he did not get repeatedly fired for being late. He must already have some device for telling time. He probably already has a watch. Maybe be a couple.

Being prone to sometimes twisted humor, I wondered if the purpose in giving a watch is to suggest that it’s now time for the retiree to realize that his minutes on Earth are running out. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Or maybe they just hope to give the retire something to do since he has no more work, like check his watch every five minutes. Yep. Five minutes has gone by. Let’s see what time it is five minutes from now.

I began to consider what would be more appropriate retirement gifts.

If his co-workers wanted to be funny, they could give him a month’s supply of prune juice. A nice, warm bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. Or perhaps a down payment on a casket.

Or they could think about what the person hopes to do with his retirement time. A fishing pole might be just the thing. Or a collection of the retiree’s favorite author’s works. Maybe a nice selection of crossword puzzles.

They could be sentimental. How about a framed picture of all the retiree’s former workers? That way he can still see them every day.

Or they can be creative. For example, give him a kite. Imagine the retiree heading out to the park in the middle of warm, sunny day, and working that kite higher and higher into the blue sky with birds singing and circling, while the rest of the world is stuck at desks or behind computer screens or loading semis.


When I retire, I hope they give me a kite.

Or that prune juice.



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