Happy Fourth everyone! As I was neatening up the house tonight, trying unsuccessfully to find a home for all the stuffed animals, toys, and little trinkets, I thought of the graduation speech Masterman's valedictorian made this year. A brilliant student who is headed to Harvard in the fall, he shared a bit of his personal story in the speech. He and his mother came to this country from China when he was only five years old. They joined his father, who was already here, and lived in a basement apartment in New York City. Both his parents worked long hours, so much so that he rarely saw his father. He saw his mother, who worked in a factory, only at night. A babysitter dropped him off and picked him up from daycare. Eventually, the family moved to Philadelphia and opened a Chinese restaurant, where they all spent long hours fighting to succeed.
What touched me most about the speech is that Yun-Teng recalled each of the gifts his parents had been able to give him over the years. There weren't many, but they were treasured. He spoke in great detail of a miniature basketball game (the ball now lost) that he taped to his bedroom wall and played over and over again. And this is what I thought of as I attempted to clean up my children's many, many things. We have too much stuff.
Like everyone I know, I love my children beyond measure and want the best for them in life, and I delight in seeing them happy (as do their grandparents and many aunts and uncles), but it's this desire that has lead to all the stuff. I'm not quite sure what to do about that. I feel blessed to have the problem.
This Fourth of July, I am so grateful to live in a country where I am able to provide for my children everything they could possibly need (though often this turns into more than they need!), and I am also grateful, and proud, to live in a country where stories like Yun-Teng's are possible.