What are you thankful for?
Here we are in the middle of January and I’ve yet to even start my new routine or work toward goals for 2020. How about you? Are you still recovering from Christmas and the whirlwind of 2019?
I have been pondering 2019 and considering what I am most thankful for in my life. I have a comfortable home, a loving family, too much food to eat, friends and a strong faith life. And though I want to complain, I have a rewarding job. I am thankful for all of these things but find myself grumbling at times when I really should be appreciative.
I have been working overtime since New Years’ eve. Between working, sleeping and keeping up with documentation, I’ve had little time or energy for much else. This is exactly why I start my year in February instead of January. I think we all need January to recoup and regroup from end of the year activities and the Holidays before we can jump into new routines and plans. And for me, working extra hours only makes it more difficult.
As a child, whenever I would complain about trouble with anything, my mom would say, “Count your blessings. See what is good about it. Be thankful.” Then she would quote this scripture from Philippians 4:8—”Whatsoever is . . . pure and lovely, think on these things.” Though she usually left off the part that says whatever is “true, noble, and just,” and though she didn’t always apply these instructions to herself, she taught me to look on the bright side, to adjust my attitude. I sometimes felt she put her head in the sand and didn’t want to look at the news or anything negative. But I guess she’d had enough of that in her life.
In her late seventies Mom began to say she was most thankful for running water. She repeated that every so often as though it was the chorus of a song. She tells of the years when she and her older sister, Grace carried five-gallon buckets of water up the hill from the pond below their one room house. I can see the two young girls struggling to balance the big heavy bucket between them as they slipped and sloshed up the hill, emptying nearly half of the bucket on the way up, meaning even more grueling trips back to the pond for more. The red muddy water was used to wash, bathe and clean with. They had to haul drinking and cooking water from town in large, metal milk cans that Poppa tied to the back of the Ford Model T truck. They filled those old cans at Gerber’s Filling Station (called a gas station now) using a water hose. Today, we don’t allow our children to drink from the water hose. The little ten and thirteen-year-old girls worked hard in their young years as many of our parents and grandparents did.
Grace twisted the clothes as she pulled them out of the red soapy water and dropped them over into the rinse bucket. Little Lottie sloshed the underwear and socks in the cloudy water and pulled out one of her socks. She wrung it out and held it up to the sun and frowned.
“What’s wrong with my new bobby socks?” she asked. She stared and then she cried, “Oh no, my new white bobby socks are ruined,” The red muddy water had stained them. Everything she had tended to be that same rusty-peach color. And now her new white socks looked like everything else. In the winter, the red color even stained her knees, elbows, and ankles. It didn’t help to take a bath if your water was going to make your skin look dirty.
Growing up with that red water touched her in a way that made her appreciate fresh clean water, and having to haul water by the buckets several times a day made her appreciate indoor plumbing, for more reasons than no longer having to use an outhouse. She remembers feeling unloved and neglected because her momma died when she was nine and other little girls had clean, white bobby socks and ruffles, and someone to braid their hair. She felt her red ankles and unruly hair made her an outcast, and she didn’t have a momma to help her. Jealous of her friends with momma’s and white bobby socks her altered her self-image and friendships. As she grew older and a mother herself, she wanted her kids to have better than she had. We still drank out of the water hose, but we had hand-made clothes, fresh rolled hair, perms (ugh) and frills we wouldn’t have had without her. Our bath water was clean, but we only used a quarter of the tub. I didn’t know what a full bathtub was like until I was married.
We often take things like running water for granted. Plumbing, electricity and air conditioning are the most basic household needs, but the least appreciated until we don’t have them available. I know when the electricity is out due to a storm (or rain here in the country of Kenefick, Texas) it means my water use is limited. Since my water well needs electricity, I can’t run as much water. And of course, no AC. Otherwise, I find myself allowing the water to run while I brush my teeth, and I always fill up the tub when I want a bath versus a shower. People leave their doors open while the AC works to keep the house cool and just stand staring with the refrigerator door open. We leave appliances plugged in when not being used (which still draws electricity) and we leave lights on all night. I’m really not a “Green” person, but I know I take for granted and waste what my mother and father had to work hard to have. You have to admit, we are a spoiled bunch of Americans. Good parenting includes teaching our children to look for things they can be thankful for in all situations. Let’s be truly appreciative ourselves by preserving our resources for our children.
What are you thankful for? When you consider your life, what has made the most improvement over the years? What could you do to pass your appreciation on to the next generation?
I’d like to start having a “Thankful Thursday” blog post every week. Please send me things you are thankful for and why.
Remember, where ever you are, you are at the right place when you come to my website and read my blog. Come on back and share a slice of life with me.