Hasn’t this weather been something? Every time I think I will put away my fall clothing, the next day will be a cold winter day. This is not true for all states but if you live in the South, it is. My sister lives in Anchorage, Alaska. In the winter of 1999, I vacationed there and couldn’t believe they keep moving 24/7 thanks to snow plows. On Christmas Eve we had the opportunity to visit Alyeska Ski Resort, well known to the rich and famous. I’ll never forget walking from the car to the hotel. It was 13 degrees below zero. I was positive I would freeze in place and just fall over like a cartoon character!
The people around me could never know I had grown up in a middle class family. I quietly observed a lifestyle I could never have imagined. This brought back memories of being a child who’s family couldn’t afford vacations. It seemed almost every new school year the teacher would ask the students to write an essay about their summer vacation. I remember staring at a blank sheet of paper and those around me writing without hesitation. One year I wrote, “This summer I played softball.” I followed with what fun it was to play as I learned to catch, pitch, and throw the ball. I ended the lesson describing an award ceremony where I’d won a trophy for being the best pitcher of the year, and the fun party that followed filled with food and celebrating. When I was a young girl, it didn’t take me long to realize our family’s circumstances relied on the weather. My dad was a brick mason. Most of my classmate’s dads didn’t have to miss work when it was was raining or cold. Many times I remember my grandfather bringing us groceries when my dad had been out of work. The bills were still due even when no money was coming in and I couldn’t help but hear my parent’s talk about how they were going to pay them.
I’ll never forget one hard winter when dad had to trade our car for a really old car. It smoked like a chimney! Of course my sister and I were totally embarrassed. We begged our mother to pick us up after the other children had left. I still envision that gray car looking like a tornado coming down the road! It is funny now. It’s easy to look back and laugh. Not only was the muffler missing, but the headliner of the car was shredded and hanging down!
Growing up poor was not all that bad when compared to how many people live in today’s world. I have read that poverty stricken people in our society are wealthy compared to those who live in other countries. I know I may never go on another vacation like I did in 1999, but I don’t sit around and think about having less than those around me. I am thankful to have the basic needs in life. A place to lie my head at night, a house (though small) is cozy in winter and summer, food on the table, and I have learned to save money by buying at thrift stores, yard sales, and no one would ever know that most of my clothes and household items are bought used.
We can choose to grow where we are planted. A day may come when you feel ‘less than’ those around you, or if you are one who has ‘much more’ than those around you, think of this; what we wear, what we drive, or what type house we live in does not define a status in life. I learned to appreciate it’s great to have good health and there is beauty in nature. We are always able to value a beautiful sunset, a blue sky, an ocean of rolling waves, a day where the rain is there so flowers and gardens will grow. We are all connected as we breathe the same air and can find in God’s Earth a painting or a poem far richer and fulfilling than any person can provide. Our Creator is able to fill the soul of the rich and famous, and of the poor and needy. Even the gray clouds and cold weather can’t squelch our spirit!