1.23.2009

What's Important

As a postscript to my musings earlier this month on my workaholism, I want to note in contrast the content of the typical end-of-year letter that one might write and send with a holiday photo card of one's family. Here's how the typical woman (and 100% of such letters I've ever gotten have been written by the wife and not the husband) might structure that letter:

1st Paragraph - Introduction. Introductory greetings, some comment about how time flies and/or the holiday season is so crazy, if religious some sort of religious greeting.

2nd Paragraph - Big News. Could be a move, a job change, or a family vacation.

3rd Paragraph - 1st Child. How old is the first child, what are their activities, what are they into.

4th Paragraph - 2nd Child. How old is the second child, what are their activities, what are they into.

5th Paragraph - Pet or 3rd Child or Pet. How old is the pet or third child, what are their activities, what are they into.

6th Paragraph - Self. Some comment about main job being shuttling kids around to various activities, something about volunteer or leisure activities, maybe a sentence about a part-time job.

7th Paragraph - Husband. One sentence about job, one about hobbies, and one about favorite things to do with the kids.

8th Paragraph - Family Vacation. Introductory sentence about how family vacation was the highlight of the year, where they went, what the kids enjoyed, maybe another sentence about a second, no-kids getaway.

9th Paragraph - Wild Card. Might be a smaller news item, something about extended family, some important activity/organization/cause, or something about something important coming up in the year to come.

10th Paragraph - Conclusion. Signing off, if religious some sort of religious message, salutations for a happy holiday and upcoming year.

I grant you that it's somewhat disingenuous to extrapolate too much from such letters because career-oriented women tend not to write them. But still, notice that out of the entire letter, easily less than 10 percent is devoted to work, even though work takes up about half of at least one of the spouses' waking hours.

Can it be that work is really that uninteresting or unimportant? Or is it that what is more interesting and important to such letter writers are things like kids and leisure? Either way, I find myself at the other extreme, increasingly aware of how where I am is probably not healthy, and wondering if I need to learn something about priorities from these letter writers.

Here's hoping that if I receive a new batch of such correspondence at the end of this year, I can say that I too had placed a higher priority than I currently do on my kids and on fun things. Relative to work, still interesting and important, but not as addictive.
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