by Kelvin Belfon
One of my childhood memories growing up in Grenada was the custom-made plastic coverings on our living and dining room furniture. This décor trend actually seemed to be pretty standard throughout the island.
The purpose of these plastics was to protect the chairs and sofas they covered. These furnishings were usually some of the most valuable or difficult to acquire items in the home, and consequently off-limit to playful children. Despite this logic, I heard a different message being communicated to me.
Similarly, the fine china and other precious items housed in our mahogany cabinet were considered untouchable. They were only used during the Christmas season when hosting special guests. As children, we were served with either plastic or aluminum, even when the guests arrived for dinner.
I remember gingerly washing each cup, plate, utensil, and vase in preparation for our visitors, knowing the high value they held in our home. Washing dishes is normally a mundane task; but washing tableware such as these was a stressful project. The message I was being taught through these experiences was that these possessions were more important than me.
In telling my story to my Jamaican wife much later, I learned that she too had a similar upbringing. Their formal living and dining room furniture as well as chinaware also held a sacred space in the home. But in 1992 Hurricane Andrew passed through her city; and unfortunately, most of their valuables were destroyed.
Having survived the 165 miles per hour winds, her family experienced a radical change in their regard for possessions. Such sacredly held home goods became acceptable for common use.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with owning pricey commodities. And definitely when one works hard to acquire something, caring should be the obvious response, right?
Yet, things are what they are, just things.
Things are replaceable. They wear out over time, get lost, stolen or destroyed. Things can give us a certain amount of satisfaction and enjoyment. Yet, they can create an unhealthy obsession in our lives if we’re not careful. And definitely, things should never supersede the value we place on people.
People are truly priceless! They are beautiful and irreplaceable.
Because of this belief, I’m even more so intentional in how I relate to friends and family. As distracting as the acquisition of stuff and the never-ending upward climb for success can be, I have to be even more thoughtful in my actions, speech and quality time with those I love. In the final analysis, there should be no doubt in their minds what’s more important to me.
Likewise, there should be no doubt in the minds of your family and friends regarding what’s more important to you.
People, not things, are our most prized possession.
Value people, not things!
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