A first-grade teacher, clawing at the very bottom of her creativity barrel, was merely trying to “hold her own.” Every turn of her head, she glanced toward the old clock on the wall that had been such an ally earlier in the fall. Now, in this final hour of instruction before the holidays, it was sinister, its hands moving with the speed of an indecisive glacier.

It had been a “slam-dunk” tool to help the youngsters learn to tell time. She smiled, recalling their befuddlement with the second hand.

This day — the last before the holidays — the clock hands seemed mired in molasses on a day so cold roosters prayed for a later sunrise. In just another hour, though, the shrill hallway bell would ring, tying the ribbon of closure on the calendar year, setting the children free. Surely she could hold on for just 60 more minutes.

She asked a “raise-your-hand-if-you-know” question, hoping to minimize chaos as two-dozen children plotted paths to make fastest exits ever. (Pity anyone who might be trying to enter the classroom at that moment.)

“What do the holidays mean to you?” she questioned. Oh, there were some expected responses about Christmas gifts, sumptuous repasts, TV football games and prayers for snow.

One said that on New Year’s Eve, they’d all make “New Year’s revolutions.” The teacher smiled, offering no corrections; that could be done another day. She figured it might take more than an hour to chase this rabbit, maybe about the same time commitment to explain the second hand.

One youngster’s response gave pause. “We pray for lots of things at our house,” the little girl explained. “Mostly, we stand still long enough to let our memories catch up with us. Then, on New Year’s Eve, we talk about making better memories next year.”

The teacher thought this worthy of break room discussion in the new year.

Maybe there wasn’t such a yearning for the day to end.

The final contributor was a usually quiet little boy who, as always, waited his turn. “My granddaddy is deep-minded and long-winded,” he began. “They said in his farming days, he often talked to fence posts.

He explained that his grandfather’s recent “weird dream” is bound to dominate family conversations during this holiday observance.

It was a “dream in a doze,” so to speak, occurring before bedtime. “Granddad was in his recliner, where we catch him dozing more often than awake,” the youngster said.

The old-timer, caught up in watching the Heisman Awards, fell asleep just before Robert Griffin III claimed the award.

Immediately in dreamland, he thought he’d died, but instead of going toward heaven, he was “headed south” in an elevator covered in frost. As it plunged downward, temperatures dropped rapidly. He shivered as ice formed on the elevator doors. Several minutes later, it jolted to a stop, and the old man stepped out, shocked by the devil’s frigid haunts. He’d expected it to be, uh, considerably more tropical. Instead, icicles hung everywhere; snow piled up in drifts that would cover parking meters.

“Oh, my,” he exclaimed, “A Baylor player finally won the Heisman.”

OK, so it’s an old story updated.

I’ve heard groans like yours before. During my presidential years at Howard Payne University, students expected to hear “the clock story” at each year-ending chapel program.

I told them about the clock’s visit to the doctor’s office.

“The thought of ticking each second next year makes me ill,” the old clock said. “That’s 60 per minute, 3,600 per hour, 86,400 per day, 604,800 per week, 2,419,200 per month and 31,449,600 for the year.

Patiently listening to the clock’s lament, he asked, “How did you manage it last year?”

Pausing, the clock answered, “One tick at a time.”

“I suggest you follow the same strategy in 2012,” the physician said.

The old doctor offered sage advice, urging that life be taken on in small bites, thus making good memories more likely. (Had there not been other patients waiting, he might have made a second recommendation concerning small “bytes,” too.)

I pray God’s richest blessings for you and those you love during this holiday season and in the new year that beckons. Don’t pay too much attention to the second hand.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments welcome. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com.; phone 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.