Picket Fences


There’s little that can’t be found on Wikipedia, that’s for sure.  It’s somewhere between Yoda and your Aunt Edna – measured wisdom, but with an opinion on just about everything.  The Great Wiki, indeed.

When queried about “picket fences,” The Great Wiki notes, “A picket fence, ideally white, is seen by some as a symbol of the ideal middle-class suburban life, with a family and children, large house, and peaceful living…In recent years, some people have associated picket fences with what they regard as the more negative aspects of this lifestyle.”

Recently, a liberal soul who walks without a higher compass suggested to me that “picket fences” is an idealistic view of the world for which the best of times have come and gone.

I don’t think so.

In fact, for our collective benefit, my hope is that the “middle-class suburban life, with a family and children, [large] house, and peaceful living” is still the American dream…and that the dream is alive.

We know this “picket fences” symbolism of  American family life to be part of our fabric since at least the 19th Century.  Even in Mark Twain’s 1876 epic novel about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, nearly a full chapter is devoted to relationships, entrepreneurialism, and mischief along the faded boards of…yes…a picket fence.

Truth be told, the liberal soul was making an attempt at convicting me for what I hold to be most valuable – home and family.   No doubt, we are more alike than different in our mutual enthusiasm for the pursuit of having “it all” – yet we are a generation and miles apart in what we most value, pursue, and define as ultimately being “it all.”

I’m acutely aware each day that I’m blessed beyond measure.  I often think of Platt’s reminder that households with annual income greater than $50,000 live better than 99% of the world’s population.  I look around and sometimes wonder if I’m dreaming that I’m visiting someone else’s existence – only because life has never been better.  And yet I’m aware that all that we are blessed to have is not ours but, rather, gifts we have been entrusted with so that we may improve the world around us.

My wish and hope is that we can all make the world a better place by building more picket fences.  Ok, maybe not literally – but imagine what we can do if we refocus on “suburban life…family and children…and peaceful living.”

I make no apology for foregoing social moments to be home to gather the family around the dinner table; for “missing” golf to “make” soccer; for drawing a line around Sunday mornings as our family’s time to be together in Sunday school and worship, followed by a meal together.  You see, from our view, we’ve had “it all” all along.  In fact, we had it well before the last promotion or two – our challenge has been to maintain it and protect it from other forms of “success.”

Linda Ellis reminds us that “…it matters not, how much we own…the cars, the house, the cash…What matters is how we live and love…and how we spend our dash.”

I suppose some may find reward in some pursuit of a dash that will be remembered by title – perhaps “Attorney,” “Administrator,” or “Scholarly Educator” – yet I personally find that fairly cold.  As for me, I’d happily settle for “Good Dad; Good Guy.”

So, I say to that soul who convicted me as too “has been” and idealistic:  Thank you for reminding me of how much more important my family is than the misguided, negative influences of the world at large.  I’ll keep my simple view of what’s truly important – as well as my Ford truck, Mellencamp on the radio, a bit of apple pie, and my picket fences.  My hope for you is that you’ll find your compass.

Take a chapter from ol’ Tom Sawyer, y’all.  Get on home and whitewash your picket fence.  I can’t speak to what’s “out there”…but the grass is pretty green on this side.

Peace to you and yours.  Keep it lit.

God bless,


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