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Never Too Late 

Some things — some really annoying exceptional-case things — do not appreciate the time they’re given

Really, all you need to do is give it time.

You knew that, right? You must have heard this advice from all the people in your life who are older and wiser than you. This generation, ach, they want quick-fixes, they want to see immediate results.

You even find yourself telling it to the next generation, because believe it or not, you are the older and wiser person in their lives.

You hate your new seat? Give it time.

Your new shoes kill? Give it time.

You don’t understand fractions? Give it time.

Giving things time is a unique skill, one you hone over years of diligent practice. It’s a most admirable trait; patience is a virtue and all that.

But here’s the deal with giving things time. Some things — some really annoying exceptional-case things — do not appreciate the time they’re given.

Like bananas.

You know how you’re strolling the aisles in the supermarket and you suddenly crave a banana? Happens to the best of us, don’t be embarrassed. So you decide to buy some, and you pick a bunch that’s nice and yellow. Or maybe you prefer to buy them when they’re slightly green, with the anticipation that they’ll turn nice and yellow soon, and every member of the family will peel one open and enjoy the delicious, ripe fruit inside.

Or maybe you plan on feeding one banana to the baby every day. It’s such a healthy, satisfying, well-rounded, practical meal.

Whatever the reasoning, you confidently buy that bunch. Now you’ve got green bananas sitting on the counter, and you give them time.

Sure enough, patience prevails, and the bananas turn yellow. All of them. At once. At the same moment when all members of the family are suddenly not in the mood to eat bananas and politely decline your sweet offer.

Yes, even the baby. Although his way of declining is somewhat less polite. He mashes the stuff on his high chair tray, smushes some in his hair, squeezes a piece into his shoe. You get the message just the same. Plus, you’re one banana down, right?

You drown the subconscious thought that maybe you should actually eat one, because guess what, suddenly you’re also not in the mood for a banana.

Tomorrow’s another day.

You give it time. One day and another and another and another. As the bananas go from nice and yellow to slightly brown, then to slightly more brown, you learn the grim truth: Overripe bananas will never return to their previous just-ripe state. No matter how much time you give them.

The same applies to lots of other food in the house. The deli in the fridge — if it has a questionable smell on Shabbos when you want to bring it to the table, trust me, the smell will never go away. It’s only going to get worse before you finally throw it in the garbage a week later. What were you thinking when you gave that first sniff? And all subsequent sniffs every night of the week after when you considered making deli salad or deli roll with the leftovers that were only left over because you were afraid to serve it on Shabbos? Did you think more fridge time would make the questionable smell disappear?

But the previous generation’s wisdom is not to be taken lightly. Take thank-you cards. A baby is born, mazel tov! And yay, gifts! Beautiful stretchies, swaddles, paci clips, hats, and wow, is that really a beautiful waffle blanket that Tante Surie just sent?

You’re so excited and, okay, overwhelmed, as life evolves into a (happy!) tailspin. Your days are consumed by feedings and laundry, and before you blink, the baby turns one.

The question now is, if you send thank-you cards in honor of your baby’s first birthday, will the gift givers even remember that the baby was once born?

Do not send thank-you cards. You are hereby exempt.

See? Giving it time saved you the cost of cards, postage, and of course, time itself. (You also spared me the job of writing that tacky appreciation-gratification-jubilation poem, so thank you, without a card. And to all you thoughtful aunts and friends, when you give me a gift and I tell you a heartfelt thank you, I really do mean a heartfelt thank you. So please consider yourself thanked. With appreciation, gratification, and loads of elation if you so prefer.)

There are times when giving things time is a no-brainer. I know there are people who jump to respond to long, boring, and concentration-requiring emails immediately. But the truth is, if you mark an email as unread and allow new and fun emails — for example, fan mail — to pile up over those annoying emails, until the unread message is safely buried on page two of your inbox, you will never have to face that intimidating email again.

(Hey, just wondering, did you receive this email?

Yes, my emails are up and running, thanks for asking.)

Then there are things — like Sidekick submissions — that when you give them time they possibly would get better. Richer, funnier, more purposeful.

Their deadlines come and go.

The writer eats a banana.

And the closing sentence dangles, taking its jolly time.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 799)

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