When I think about “honoring” someone, I think of a
company awards ceremony, or a school graduation ceremony.  
And the distinguishing features of these events are that they are
solemn, laudatory, and discreet.   I suspect this is how
honoring our parents is supposed to work, too.

    When I say solemn I don't mean grave or depressed,
just serious and earnest.  The bestowing of the honor isn't
accompanied by sarcasm or any other innuendo that detracts from the
praise being offered.  These awards are laudatory in that they are
genuine honors.  There might be a humorous roast to a retiring
employee or a series of ironic “most likely” awards voted by the
graduating class, but these are not offered as a genuine honor. 
The real honoring is about true merit acheived.  And finally,
genuine honors are discreet.  What is good is mentioned, and about
the rest there is silence.  

   For example, even if the valedictorian really was a snob a
sharp temper and bad taste in clothing, it isn't mentioned at the
honoring ceremony.  Likewise, the guy the who missed half his
classes and slept through the rest, and only managed to graduate after
six years of steady enrollment because the new basket-weaving program
ran all its classes pass/fail, even he isn't presented his degree with
a hearty, “John Smith, boy are we glad to get rid of you”, but merely
an unaffected, “John Smith, Associate of Arts in Basketology.”

    There are parents who would earn a Summa Cum Laude
in parenting, and probably the Distinguished Alumni and Lifetime
Achievement awards as well.   Other parents are, sadly, only
going to qualify for honors along the lines of the “Viable Sperm Donor”
award.  Most parents fall somewhere in the middle.  But I
think that even if all we can manage is to say, “My parents gave life
to me”, if we do it with the proper disposition, we are on our way to
meeting the commandment. 

    Giving life to someone is not, after all, a very
small thing. We ought to be able to find it in ourselves to at least
say that with some genuine gratitude.  And most of us can probably
think of dozens of other kind honors to bestow on our parents. 
“She makes good soup” or “He found time to play ball with me now and
again” or something, anything.

    Funny story:  Mr. Boy brought home his “family
activities” sheet from religious ed.  The lesson was something
about God creating us and our dignity as human beings.  The
suggested activity was for the family to take turns saying something
nice about the all the others.  It was just me and the boy sitting
down together when I went over the sheet with him, and frankly I didn't
want to do the assignment.  The reason is that I knew all the
things my kids already found wrong with me, and had genuine doubts that
they would come up with something good to say about me.  Ignorance
is bliss, I decided.  But Mr. Boy insisted, so we did the activity
together, just the two of us.  And remarkably, he was able to come
up with something good to say about me, without even having to pause
and think for very long.  And it felt wonderful!

    I need to keep that in my mind when I think about my
relationship with my own parents and in-laws.  How good I feel
when my boy says something nice about me.  Realizing, now, how
powerful a few genuine honors can be, creates a tempting game, in a
good way.  Rather than dwelling on my parents' (or anybody's)
faults, I ought to be seeing how much happiness I can send their way.

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