Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blessings: Thanksgiving Cupcakes, Raccoons Steal the Milk and a New Fridge

It's freakishly cold here now, and I'm afraid I no longer feel able to brave a daytime high of a mere 44 degrees without ringing my hands together and wailing into the cold freezing wind like a little child. Yes, I know many of you are laughing right now, but I almost feel I should drag out that long coat with the rabbit-fur lined hood ( poor bunny) that has not seen the sun since Idaho. It's covered in a substantital layer of dust, however, so I think I'll leave it. Besides, in this climate surely this weather cannot survive long?

Today, I'm thinking about the cold - I can't help that - and blessings. The blessing of a furnace that works, a good car heater, plenty of food and adequate living space for my family.

Today my son Berto said, "When I'm a teenager, and I come home for Thanksgiving, I'll bring cupcakes. I'll bring twenty, and I'll eat fifteen!"

I had to help him back-paddle a little before he drifted out into his own little sea of illusion.

"Cupcakes, huh?" I said. "Okay, but you'll be living with us when you're a teenager, you know. You won't leave until you go to college, and even then some kids still live with their parents into their early twenties."

He seemed very discouraged by this. No - mad, actually. He got very surly about it.

That's when I reminded him we wouldn't always live in a house this small, that since he was the oldest, he would someday have his own room.

"Well, it'll still be boring!" he cried.

Again, the blessings - thank God for the blessing of a sheltered life, here classified as boring by my son.

I wrapped up the conversation.

"Even if we lived in this small house all our lives, we'd be fine. We'd be blessed," I told him. "Some people live in mud huts with dirt floors. In some places several orphans live together in one-room houses. We are very blessed."

I am grateful that I realize how very blessed we are. I am convinced that many people lose that perception in their scheme for a nicer car, a bigger home, the latest technology or just more period. I, too, get caught up in the pursuit of things that cannot really affect my family's ability to be happy and healthy, but I am also aware of how much there is for which to be thankful. We are able to expend money on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables without worrying about the cost of groceries. If the car breaks down, we do not panic wondering where we'll get the money to fix it. When a doctor's visit is required, we do not stress or delay; we have health insurance.

I saw what it was to struggle when I was growing up. My parents were careful about money spent on groceries. We had no health insurance, and if the car broke down, it was a disaster. Though we struggled, I remember us as blessed. We loved each other, trusted God, and there were times when God provided in remarkable ways.

Early one spring in my childhood, our refrigerator gave out. We began to be creative about food storage for a while as my parents tried to figure out how to pay for a new fridge. They bought food for supper on the way home every night, and we cooked it up immediately. We kept half-gallons of milk in the cold spring under the bluff that shadowed the creek. Every morning we walked down the lane to get our milk for breakfast, and sometimes we found the raccoons had been there before us. The clever animals figured out how to unscrew the lids on previously unopened jugs, and we were left without milk because of their ingenuity. Meanwhile, my dad fiddled with the old fridge, trying to coax it to work again.

One Saturday morning we were surprised by a small group of men on our porch. When my dad asked if he could help them, one of the gentlemen answered, "We've brought you a new fridge."

I remember watching with excitement as the group of strangers and my dad unloaded the yellow fridge from a truck. When it was in place and humming familiarly, Dad, his tanned face softened with gratitude, asked who our benefactors were.

"We're Christians," was the simple reply. "We give this to you in Jesus's name."

Memories have their legacy. Whatever Matthew and I may accumulate in the way of material possessions, I hope that in essentials our life with our children will be what I knew with my parents, brother and sisters. I am not ignorant of the blessing of having the necessities when there is love and a desire to forge a relationship with one's Creator. For myself, I wish not to squander my awareness of others' struggles. If I fail to acquire the finer things in life, I hope not to fail in sharing the blessings I do have.

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