“The household is the association established by nature for the supply of men’s everyday wants…”
According to Aristotle, a household is that small community of people with whom, by nature’s design, we live every day. It is a community united by the simple and often mundane activities of daily life. But what a privilege and a joy, to get to live with these few people day in and day out: a privilege perhaps not rightly appreciated. It gives me occasion to reflect on life in my own home, and to consider it from a new angle. And so I write…
An Open Letter to My Children
For years now I have had to say good-bye to you most days of the week. I am often gone for most of the waking hours in your day.
The day tends to fly by for me—I’m usually pretty busy. I wonder sometimes how it is for you, and for Mama. There are so many things you do that I don’t see, and that I don’t hear much about. There are likewise so many things that I do, that you don’t see or hear about.
I wish our lives overlapped even more than they do.
Do you remember how sometimes you would say when I was leaving in the morning: “I’ll give you a hundred thousand kisses when you get home?” I think the highest we ever reached one evening was to twenty-three. Some of you would run out to meet me; others always preferred to hide and for me to come find you. One of you still loves hiding, and I never tire of looking for you, and finding you in your favorite corner under the chair.
Sometimes I say good-bye for several days when I go on a trip. When you were younger you hadn’t heard of Dallas or Chicago; you wondered how far it was. I told you an airplane could get me there and back very quickly. It would only be one night, or two or three, and I’d be back. I’d promise to come kiss you even if it was late: that way it would be one fewer days until my return. But you would still cry; and usually so would I.
You are all growing up, and some of you are now really adults.
Sometimes it has been my fault that we haven’t had more time together; sometimes I haven’t realized the treasure we have had. I think as long as we live in this world I’ll wish our lives overlapped more than they do.
How can I begin to count the blessing of having lived under the same roof with you for as long as we have? I do not know for sure how much longer we will have, and what the future holds for us. It will still have been too little time we have had together. Perhaps one day Mama or I, or both of us will have occasion to live in a household of you and your spouse and children.
But two things I know: under whatever roof your Mama and I ever live, part of our being your parents is that our home will always be your home, even if and when you begin to have your own.
And further, no one can ever take from us—and who else could really understand?—the time we have had together. It is a promise of something more, of a time when there will be no goodbyes. I know it is.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Politics is his major political work, in which he includes a consideration of the household.