Thanks Dad!

Thanks Dad!

(Lasting Gifts)

Even though I got messages from my parents that created some of my demons, they don’t need to be the focus of my living.  My parents also taught me some angel lessons that look over my living.  My father is an example.  He was a hunter and fisher.  I grew up during the Great Depression and the World War II years.  Food was scarce, so hunting was more than sport. It was preservation rooted in  conservation.  He taught me two things:

  • Do not kill what you do not intend to eat.
  • Do not kill more than you intend to eat.

The only exception to these rules was something that might threaten my life such as a rattlesnake.  So while I could enjoy the process of hunting as a food source, I was to look after the ecology that made such possible.  But it was more than just looking after.  It was a caring about that which sustained me.  The lesson was: No wanton destruction.  The residual perspectives that rose from this lesson are:

  • A sense of the brevity of existence of all creatures.
  • A sense of the interconnectedness of all that exists.
  • A sense of caring about that which sustains me.
  • A sense of myself as a steward of the food chain.

This is in stark contrast to the out of control capitalistic consumerism so characteristic of American culture that rapes the environment for the sake of profit and pleasure.  Conservationist John Muir put his finger on the issue for me:

Nothing dollarable is safe, howsoever guarded.

Capitalism announces that everything in the human environment of living is dollarable.  My father’s message was simple and clear.  Anything less than my personal stewardship was a betrayal of the environment’s continuing gift of life. Thanks Dad!

Christmas is a time of gifting.  Why not take advantage this focus to reflect on some non-dollorable gifts from others that have increased the quality of your relational living?  And give appropriate thanks.  It will make Christmas far more precious than just what might be under the tree.

Robert T. Latham

Image Copyright: napatcha / 123RF Stock Photo


  • We gave up exchanging gifts for adults in our large blended family long ago. Last Christmas I invited the seven grandchildren of a wide ranging age who came to bake holiday cookies to choose a donation for an animal from the National Wildlife catalog for their Christmas gift. I was so gratified by their response to picking from the many species of animals. They asked me to do that again this year! And the four youngest (age 8-15) have asked us in the past two years to do something with them as their birthday gifts. I know other similar stories and am hopeful it will spread.
    So Happy Holidays!

  • The adults in our family do not exchange gifts unless it is a donation to a good cause in their name. I like Heifer International for two reasons. They provide an animal or insect (bee) and teach the family how to make a living from it. There is also a promise from the individuals provided with the livelihood to give a portion of the offspring to fellow villagers and teach them how to profit. Usually several families in one village are gifted and trained at the same time.
    In the long run, an entire village can become self efficient.

  • Robert, you have been a cherished mentor for me across the miles and years. I especially remember, when going through a serious crisis in my ministerial career, you were present for me. In addition to the wisdom that our fathers might have passed on to us, I suspect that we all have needed an active listening presence. Thanks, Robert!

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