Best Wishes

Our Best of NH deadline falls just as summer wishes take shape. This year, for my family, there's also a wedding.

While rolling in a line of cars up I-93 at five miles an hour, admiring the federally funded cranes and Jersey barriers along the way, ever see that bumper sticker that reads, “The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things”?

My first reaction is to think, “So true.” Then I note that the sticker is attached to the bumper of a shiny new Prius or maybe one of those ubiquitous Volvo wagons with all-wheel drive and kayak racks on the roof.

Something about bad traffic makes me quick to judge, and I know I use a different standard with myself. When I purchase a tangible “thing,” I think of it as a means to achieve something less tangible. My motive is not to have the thing but the opportunities it provides — new freedoms, joys and experiences to share with family and friends. I suppose I should give the benefit of the doubt to the owner of that new Prius — as I sit in my dented 2000 Honda Insight with 260,000 miles on it and the two glowing panel lights I’ve decided to just ignore.

This perspective has been heightened recently with the engagement of my eldest daughter, Eleanor. She and her Michael will be married when you read this, but right now, we have boxes of all sizes filled with things (hot off the wedding registry) arriving at our door every day. The entire family seems to be happily burning cash on clothes, tablewares, fabrics, flowers, tree lights and hanging baskets. The reception will be in our yard, which has begun to look like a Lowe’s garden supply trailer tipped over and spilled on my lawn.

The buying frenzy is equivalent to Christmas plus a birthday times a graduation, but we all know it’s not about the stuff. It’s the launch of a new family. It’s a ceremonial blending of the lives and histories of two distinct clans. It opens the corridor of the future for a brief time, and we illuminate it with hope and all the prayers and best wishes we can muster. The things are not the point. They are just offerings we toss on the bright fire of familial love. We give the best things we can, no matter how ephemeral (or regiftable) they may be, because nothing less will do. We’re allying with the very Force of Life itself in preparing new ground to put down new roots.

I think we seek out the best things in our everyday lives for the same reason. We’re attempting to make something glorious with our brief time on Earth. Sometimes it’s as simple as a perfect meal, a well-chosen gift, a special gathering with friends, an unforgettable outing with family. Our purchases may seem like materialism in action, and perhaps a few of them are selfish, but usually we seek out the best so it can be shared with those we love.

So, from my (expanding) family to yours, summer wishes for nothing but the best.

Categories: Editor’s Note