The Retirement Scoreboard – Part Nine – Being Father Christmas In July

Being loved and revered by your family, friends, and neighbours is a wonderful ambition, and one that many retired people aspire to. You can see them every day smiling and nodding to the passers-by as they prune the white gardenias round their little cottages. There is an air of sanctity, home-made lemonade, and Tollhouse cookies about them.

Well, they could save a lot of time, not to mention flour, sugar, and pruning shears, by realising that they need not be lovable to be loved, nor respectable to be respected. All they need to do is be honest – and honesty is extremely cheap when you are retired.

Remember in my previous post where I said that retired people are of little interest or use to business? Well that is true – if they were to be so, they would still be sought by business. But when in business, people may think that they have to lie like hounds, while in retirement they know that they can speak the truth. If they speak it to those closest to them they can reap rewards:

a. Tell the wife, husband, or partner that you love them. If that seems a little far to go, tell them you like them. Or at least stop hitting them with a stilson wrench when they enter the house. Also stop hitting them with a list of things to do.

If you’re retired you can honestly tell someone your feelings for them. Of course if these are bad feelings, you may get a different reaction, but at least the whole thing is out in the open.

For myself and my wife, we quietly confessed to each other over dinner one night that we would both not have had happy lives if we had not been married to each other. It was not a Hollywood declaration, and was spoken around a potao bake with sausages and sweet corn, but it was absolutely true. We won’t be having some ceremony renewing marriage vows because the original ones have not gotten frayed at all. If people want free booze and cheese on sticks they are going to have to come along to a golden wedding party in 5 years time.

b. Tell the children you are happy with them. If this is a sort of spotty emotion ( Happy that they have not crashed the car. Again. This week… ) do your best. It can be quiet too, I remember my late father in the 1980’s saying the simple phrase ” Proud of you, boy ” over something I had done and it has stick with me since – I can picture the occasion and hear the voice after all these years. He didn’t have anything to gain from the statement as he had my unconditional love all the time, but it was a gem of a moment.

c. Tell people who have taught you a lesson in life that they have done so, and that you paid attention. This can be negative lessons, as well as positive. I learned from someone in the 1970’s not to put my money into other’s business ventures. It proved costly then, and it would prove costly now – other people’s business is conducted for their benefit and if they think that benefit is served by them keeping your money, that will happen.

On the other hand, if the lesson has been profitable to you, also tell them so, and in this case thank them. A lot of people go through life not knowing that they have done good, and it is a pleasant surprise for them to discover it.

d. You might have wondered about the Father Christmas in July title. Well, aside from the commercial ploy of Christmas in July that all the restauranteurs and hotels in Perth try each year when it gets cold and wet, there is the wonderful idea of providing gifts where none are expected. They need not be bought, or made – they can be spoken or written, and have just as much effect.

Remember that you have to be honest, but the thing is to find something about someone that is admirable or memorable, and remember it and admire it. You can get away with it – you’re retired. People can regard you as an old geezer or an old crone or an old fool all they want – and they will anyway – but when you have publicly complemented them they needs must treat you well or be seen by others as boors. You may not be able to buy love or respect, but you can compel politeness.

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