Keeping thankful in perspective
November 26, 2012
Since I was a girl in school and old enough to write, there was always the assignment to pen a "I am thankful for" list. For some reason it usually takes a holiday where the bounty overflows so much it should be embarrassing that we ponder our thankfulness.
True to form, it is almost Thanksgiving and my "thankful" list is underway. But this time I'm gauging my thankfulness for today on the things of yesterday.
We in this current world take our comforts so much for granted. We can't control the weather outside so we create climate-controlled environments inside and live there. As a civilization, we have invented enough forms of electronic entertainment to keep us mindlessly busy 24/7 and never notice what Mother Nature is doing outside. We have a gadget that will tell us if we need to know.
Each generation has a generation before it that lived a very different life with completely different challenges. My kids never knew what black and white TV looked like while I remember when the first one showed up at my grandparents' house. My grandparents remembered when radio was pretty exciting stuff second only to actually having the electricity to use it.
I could outline "hard times" by each generation in my family back to the immigration from the "old country." But today I'll just say I'm thankful for their tough mind sets and willingness to make do so that survival allowed for my generation to be born.
My grandmother wrote about when she was only 18 and had just married my grandfather. It was in 1930. They lived in a one-room cabin near a freshwater spring in the mountains of Southern Colorado. He worked at a sawmill too far away to travel daily so he left on Monday mornings not to return until Saturday night. They had a dog, a milk cow and very little food.
She related that they survived on venison and not much else. She made cottage cheese from the cow's milk and my grandfather trapped for coyote, fox and bobcat to sell the furs to supplement a very meager income.
During their first spring together, the thoughts of green vegetables from her carefully tended garden excited her so. Then in the first week in July, there came a hard freeze and her rows of vegetable plants turned black. She fell to the ground and cried but not for long. She simply started over. That fall she was blessed with a bountiful harvest in spite of the very late start.
Imagine an 18-year-old of today living with so few resources. Survival meant food and shelter, not the latest fashion in belly-button revealing clothes or owning the newest version of the coolest phone.
What will my grandchildren remember of my sacrifices? "Poor Grandma. It was 70 miles one-way to the nearest Wal-Mart."
My grandmother wrote, "They were years of very hard times, but the memories are sweet and precious. We raised our kids on beans, love and poached venison. Looking back I see just how little material things mattered. Survival and family were what life was all about. Sixty years later, it still is."
Our "hard times" are so truly relative to the times we live in. I'm so thankful for her life in order to keep a solid perspective on mine. ❖