Hotel – $100. Dinner at Old Train Station – $50. Memories made – PRICELESS! That pretty well summarizes my last 24 hours. Ever since the movie “The Polar Express” came out a few years ago, Heather and I have made it a family tradition to take the kids on a “Polar Express” adventure each Christmas season. I pretend I’m the conductor and announce the surprise boarding of the “Polar Express” (our car) to take us to our next Christmas-time destination. This year we went to a hotel with an indoor pool since the kids love to swim. We also went to the old train station in Ann Arbor that has been converted into a nice restaurant. We enjoyed a fine dinner including a stop outside the window by the Amtrak commuter train. We had a great time!
This sort of an adventure is not something that comes natural for me. I’ve always been the type who says you shouldn’t spend a penny if you don’t have too. “Have to” means things like basic food, shelter (with a thermostat set at a high of 65) and clothes to cover your body. Luxuries like going to a hotel and eating out (when not absolutely necessary for travel) used to be “a waster of good money” to an old scrooge like me. But, I’ve learned something about myself. If I don’t get away from the church and home entirely, I have a hard time really focusing on my wife and kids. I’m tempted to give them half-hearted attention. Little outings like this help me to disengage entirely and give my full attention to my family. It’s a way for me to say, “I love you MORE than my work!” I’ve also found that the memories we make truly are priceless. I’m sure we’ll remember our dinner by the tracks for the rest of our lives. There are few things you can buy that promise a pay-back like that.
Yes, I’ve come a long way in life from the penny-pinching bachelor I was 20 years ago. Keeping my “thumb up” to Jesus as my first priority in life has paid off. I’ve learned that the things that REALLY matter can’t be bought at any price. And, I ALREADY have them as gifts from Jesus … forgiveness, peace, joy, eternal life. And, the next most important things in life … my wife and kids … really enjoy the love of Jesus I show them when I give them my focused attention. If the “luxury” expenditure of a “Polar Express” outing can accomplish that, then it’s money well spent. I thank God for the opportunity to use a bit of the money He’s provided me to pass along His love. The memories made are, indeed, PRICELESS!