Hand Me Downs (23 Things to Pass Down to Your Kids)
1. A lucky number. Long before Jordan sanctified it, number 23 was lucky just because Dad said it was. He’d look for it everywhere. Forty years later, his grandchildren fill the lane on the break wearing the number he decided was theirs. Memoriesaccrete around specific things.
2. A passion for tax-free growth.
3. About $3,000. An inheritance cuts your kids’ ambition in half, robs them of the satisfaction of making their own way, and keeps them from lessons worth learning. So you spend it.
4. A team to love. It’s a durable pleasure, best passed from father to child.
5. A team to hate. Despising a team–with all the venom you can muster and for no discernible reason–is a gift that gives life shape.
6. A will. And prearrange a really, really, really inexpensive funeral, too. Rule: Money is best spent on people who are alive.
7. Love of country. The quiet, grateful kind.
8. A decent carving knife.
9. A dented wheelbarrow. Associate yourself with stupid donkey work, as in moving this stuff that’s here, over there.
10. A fragment of inspiring verse. Memorized, so they’ll always have it when they need it.
11. Stories of your screwups. In the interest of less pedestal, more human, be sure they’ve heard tell of your greatest misses.
12. A holy book. Your copy of the Bible or Torah, if either has sustained you. Your Huck Finn or Heart of Darkness, if you’re of a literary cast. An atlas of the world around which a pilgrim is free to roam.
13. Enthusiasm for two movies: one stupid, one stirring. Say, Caddyshack and Braveheart.
14. A tattered road map. An old-fashioned, service-station map of a region you’ve traveled a lot with the family. It should have a few words scribbled on it, a couple of routes highlighted in yellow. Some of the crease lines should be torn from wear.
15. A baseless prejudice in favor of a particular make of car. Everybody knows that [fill in name of car manufacturer here] makes the best cars on the road. Period. End of story.
16. A family catchphrase. A brief yelp that captures your take on life and can invoke your spirit long after you’re dead.
17. Respect for baby steps. Most work gets done an inch at a time. Teach them to just break ground.
18. A coat. Barn jacket, tweed topcoat, or camo hunting shell, there’s something warm about the old man’s coat.
19. A patented shot. You put the hoop up in the driveway, didn’t you? Tell me you did, Dad. Name your unique fall-away jumper (The Dagger) or sky hook (Death from Above). Even memories require marketing.
20. U.S. savings bonds. They seem the very symbol of hope.
21. A handwritten description of a happy day. So what if you’re not Tolstoy? Scribble a few contented lines about that 16th of October and stash it in your desk for postdeath discovery.
22. A pleasure in people. Some get annoyed that people are so odd; lucky folks know that’s the fun part.
23. A maintenance jones. If they see you changing the oil in the driveway, they’ll learn to get more service from their stuff and have deeper friendships.
(thanks to Hugh O’Neill)