Through the years I spent a lot of time with both of them, especially my grandfather because he was the one that usually took me to sports practices or at least picked me up from them. Ever since I knew how to run I was always playing a sport whether it was baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, track and field, volleyball or the sport I grew to enjoy playing the most - football. It was for this reason and others that I would spend a lot of time with my grandfather.
Because my grandfather's job, and from simply vacationing with my grandmother, he had been all over the world. Through his many experiences he always had a story for me and most of his stories included a life lesson. One of the lessons I'll never forget is the lesson to "never take a wooden nickel". He told me this constantly growing up and for the majority of my life I thought he literally meant what he was telling me not to do - don't take take any wooden nickels.
Growing up another thing my grandparents taught me was the importance of saving money. In fact they were the first ones to give me a piggy bank and along with my mom gave me a weekly allowance. My grandmother took this lesson to heart by teaching me this challenge on a weekly basis. Each Friday evening when my mom would come pick me up from their house, she would give me some change and my grandfather would too. As I grew older so did the allowance, going from just a few quarters to eventually dollars and a little more.
As I learned the importance of saving the money I was given I learned the value of accumilation and growth. Along the way my grandfather would chime in, "Chris, don't take any wooden nickels!" In my earlier years, I would sometimes find myself looking through the change he or my grandmother would give me and say, "Grandpa, you didn't give me any wooden nickels this week." He'd calmly reply, "I know but be careful because one day someone else might try to give you one."
Since those days of learning about money in an informal but important way, I've learned that my grandfather wasn't just trying to teach me about money. He was trying to teach me to be aware about life. So many times we get caught up in the rat race and to some degree get caught up in a daily trance. We go through the same routines. We talk to the same people. We even participate in the same activities and almost never break out of our "shells". This is where things can slip by us. This is where we can get careless. This is often times when we end up taking wooden nickels and before we realize it...its too late.
We must learn to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings. We must learn to make asking questions of others, especially those we're closest to, a habit in our daily lives. Its too easy in this world of instant messaging, text messaging, gmail chat and Facebook to allow ourselves to "instantly talk to someone" or even "instantly build a relationship" without truly communicating with them. We cannot allow ourselves to take our relationships with our family, friends, co-workers and others for granted. We cannot even allow ourselves to take our enemies for granted because even they have a place and purpose in our lives. In the end, we must remember...
...things aren't always what they seem.