DH = Dear Husband CF1 = Church Friend 1
DD3 = Dear third daughter CF2 = Church Friend 2
DD2 = Dear second daughter
I introduced myself to a new neighbour recently. We had a brief, polite conversation which included her informing me that she played golf. When I told her that I never golfed, she asked me what I did for fun. “Not enough,” I replied.
Ramsey says that there are three purposes for money: to have fun; to invest; and to give away. Starting with purpose number one, he says that once you’re out of debt and your money is working for you, the doors open to new levels of fun. My dream is to take my family hiking in the south of England before going on a Jane Austen tour. That would be a new level of fun. But in the meantime, says Ramsey, as you’re getting out of debt, don’t neglect to make small investments in fun.
All Work And No Play
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” goes the saying. I’ve been feeling dull lately. May and June are the craziest months of the year for anyone who works in a school. The teachers’ pressure to get through the curriculum and mark, mark, mark; the students’ stress to complete assignments and study for exams; the whole staff’s efforts to make graduation ceremonies happen; the weird, summer-hungry energy that develops among students, requiring extra vigilance from equally summer-hungry staff . . . It’s all relieved by the sudden crash of July. Unless you teach summer school.
Couple this with the fact that DH’s craziest months of the year are June and July. He has a regular client who annually gives DH a very intensive bit of business that spreads out over these two months. Although DH works at home, he is essentially not present these days. Morning, noon, and night, he is working to get this job done and to manage other business that still comes his way. As a result, I’m doing almost everything involved in running the household. It is, of course, thrilling that DH’s business is succeeding. It’s just that I’m tired. Especially over the first couple of weeks of July, still recovering from June, after a morning of prep work and marking; an afternoon of teaching; an evening of making supper, doing the dishes, taking DD3 to her soccer, walking the dog . . . I didn’t so much fall asleep at night as I did slip into a coma. Are we having fun yet?
Fun With DD3
Last week, I did some radical things. First, I bought myself a book – Margaret Atwood’s Payback in which she studies the history of debt. I considered being sensible and borrowing it from the library, but I gave in to my reckless desires and made the purchase. That was just the beginning. I subsequently took DD3 out for dinner. DD2 was busy with her sport; DH was working; and I had a profound need to be served, as well as a slight guilt – about working in the summer when my youngest is still young – to be assuaged. Following our pleasant and delicious meal, I told her I’d buy her a book. She chose Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Dance. And I chose Adele’s 21 CD. We stopped at the coffee shop where her youth pastor works, and he treated her to a caramel latte. Mother and daughter came home full, happy, and eager to enjoy our purchases.
Fun With CF1 & CF2
This wild behaviour continued last Friday after work when I got together with my two friends from church. I’ll call them Church Friend 1 (CF1) and Church Friend 2 (CF2). About ten months ago, the three of us chatted after service one Sunday and found that we couldn’t stop. “We’ll have to get together,” said CF1. And we have. Almost every Friday evening since that Sunday, the three of us have met in one house or another, and it has been a remarkable blessing for each one of us. We always talk. We often pray for each other. We sometimes eat and watch a movie. On occasion, we have a drink.
Last Friday was very hot and humid, and as I drove to CF2’s house from work (she offered to host us for bar-b-q hamburgers), I decided I wanted to have a beer. I don’t drink often though, and I didn’t know where the beer store was. When I arrived at CF2’s house, I shared my dilemma with her, but she wasn’t much help because she didn’t know where the beer store was either. CF1 soon arrived, and we looked to her for answers, but to no avail. Finally, the young woman who boards at CF2’s house advised us to go to the liquor store where foreign beer is sold. She told us where it was.
We decided that we’d all go together, and each of us ended up with a six-pack or a four-pack of something or other in hand. As we made our way to the cash register, CF2 bumped into her next-door neighbour. “Are you all friends from work?” she asked. CF2 said no, and then there was an awkward silence. I decided to break it. “We’re friends from church,” I said. “We’re the church ladies.” This neighbour got a kick out of “the church ladies” at the liquor store, and CF1 in particular broke into a giggle fit. We went back to CF2’s place where I had my beer and our host put on the bar-b-q. Only she burned her first three burgers because we were talking so much and she didn’t want to miss anything. Take two on the burgers, but this time she brought us out to her back yard so that she could keep an eye on our meal and talk at the same time. Her next door neighbour, happily home from the liquor store and playing cards in her back yard, threatened to call the cops with all the smoke and laughter going on over the fence. It was fun! And it cost me about $10. As we were getting ready to leave later on, CF1 wrote “love” in the dust covering CF2’s furniture. That’s the kind of friendship we have.
So fun can happen, even when you’re getting out of debt. It often does take a bit of money, but I sometimes wonder if more money really would allow for more fun. Would I have had more fun with DD3 if we’d eaten at a fancier restaurant or bought more expensive items than books and a CD? I don’t think so. Would I have had more fun with my friends if we’d met at a country club? You can’t burn hamburgers and write in the dust at a country club. I definitely look forward to the day when I can take that dream vacation in England. But I know that while fun can be set up, it can’t be bought. And it’s best when it catches me by surprise in unlikely situations – like the liquor store with my church ladies – or cruising in my car, Adele tunes blaring, on the road to summer school.