Bring on the Pomp and Circumstance

Liam's Class in 2014

Liam’s Class in 2014

A quick tally reveals that since my husband and I have been together we will have attended 22 graduations for our kids and grandkids by the end of this month. And that doesn’t include the sweet kindergarten graduations with cherubic faces grinning under precariously perched construction-paper mortar boards–or all the “moving up” ceremonies to middle school and high school.

Sitting through the list of names from Aker to Zimmerman, and listening to all the speeches about learning from the past and reaching for the stars in the future, were all worth it, however. Even if the auditorium was stifling hot and we were seated behind a large post. Why? Because of the graduates we loved and wanted to celebrate fully!

Amanda and Family in 2012

Amanda and Family in 2012

And yes, we’ll have more pomp in our family this graduation season—under different circumstances! I know it’s true because two graduation invitations are on our refrigerator. Granddaughter Sophia will graduate from Del Norte High School and granddaughter Morgan will graduate from the University of Arizona–a year early! Both girls will be adding all their hopes and dreams to that cumulative pile formed by 2019 graduates everywhere.

I haven’t been asked to give a graduation address since I was in high school, and frankly I hope I never am. I’d have a hard time sticking to the expected “worldly advice” and “it’s all up to you” script. I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from offering Biblical advice that matters—something with substance like: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Ellie in 2016

Ellie in 2016

Sadly then, in many schools today, the “politically correct police” would drag me from the podium and out the back door of the auditorium. But I might have time to toss over my shoulder a few more words of practical advice I’ve heard or learned—my honorary academic gown flapping with every step, and my honorary mortar board tassel bouncing up and down:

“Don’t worry about what other people think of you, because they don’t think of you that often!”

“Start your day by making your bed and no matter what you’ve accomplished something!”

“Wear sunscreen! Skin cancer happens.”

“Stay in touch with your parents! They’ll always love you.”

“Show up where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there!”

With Charlie in 2018

With Charlie in 2018

“Look for opportunities to help or encourage someone else! Be kind and humble.”

No, I won’t be giving any speeches. But I will be sitting proudly next to my husband taking in all aspects of the celebrations: Graduates hugging one another and high-fiving, cell phones flashing, parents and grandparents beaming in that foolish way we do so well. And why shouldn’t we? Graduations are great milestones worth celebrating on this journey we call life.


  1. Jimmie Bohannon says:

    loved the word picture of the ‘politically correct police’ paragraph!! you do paint a vivid picture!
    Congratulations to all the honorees.
    Love you all, Jimmie

  2. Lea Ann Brookens says:

    love YOUR words of advice!!!

  3. Great advice for all of us!!

  4. Thanks, Nancy. I would love to hear your speech!

  5. Enjoyed this, Nancy! I feel sad that unless our children are in “religious” establishments, they are denied a mention of the higher way. When they are encouraged to “reach for the stars”, there dare be no mention of the Maker of those celestial bodies. My heart aches BUT, we g.mas, make up for it with by one-on- ones with our treasured progeny!! The one exception I must mention, are the graduations from Catholic schools, which I have attended, I witnessed the copious inclusion of the Triune God in every aspect and from every speaker, including the students. Grateful and glad!

  6. Peggy Lovelace Ellis says:

    Nancy, regarding the mention of “religious” establishments, I have a Christian friend who taught for many years in a church academy. Two years ago, she was fired because she persisted in including references to God and Jesus in her classes. Sad.

  7. Your Huzzband says:

    Looking forward to two more this month!

  8. Oh, Nancy, I am both chuckling and applauding your post. I love how you sprinkled in plenty of wise counsel as you were hypothetically being escorted off stage. My next graduation may be from doggie obedience class, so I’ll keep you in mind for joining us to share more valuable life lessons.

  9. Maria McConnell says:

    Loved this, Nancy! Can’t wait to see you guys. 🙂

  10. Elizabeth H. Van Liere says:

    Good thoughts and especially enjoyed the sentence about making your bed when you get up because then you’ve accomplished something.
    GREAT! I’ve been doing it forever and now it is really nice to know I’ve done something today! Thanks, Nancy. As my husband used to say, “Do something. Even if it’s wrong.”

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