Thursday, 30 August 2012
Gratitude . . . or knowing when you're lucky
For the past several mornings we have had to do our morning and evening ablutions standing in front of the kitchen sink. Not unlike our forbears actually . . . it has been a very humbling experience and I expect that by the end of 2 1/2 weeks (and I dooooo so pray that it won't be quite that long) we will be most appreciative of our new bathroom, in a way that we have never been before.
I've been most spoiled in my lifetime. I've always had a bathroom and there have been times in my life when I have actually been blessed to have more than one bathroom! I have a fading memory of visiting my grandmother as a child and standing on a chair at the kitchen sink to be washed . . . and having to use an outdoor toilet, but that was long ago, and only briefly. Yes . . . I have been very blessed.
Todd, well . . . he was born just before the second world war . . . so he has not been quite as lucky as I have been, and there were many years for him when the only loo was out the back door, and the only bath hung on the wall of the garden shed, to be brought in once a week and filled . . . and you wanted to be the first one in, because if you were the last . . . well, you were washing in everyone else's filth . . . but it was wet and there were no other options.
Oh how much we take for granted in our modern lives. Things like refrigerators and dishwashers . . . washing machines and dryers. I have not had a clothes dryer since I moved over here to the UK, and I never thought I could live without one, once upon a time . . . but I've done it now for almost 12 years. Now it seems like a most unnecessary luxury . . . and one which we can't really afford. All that electricity . . . money which can be better spent elsewhere. We dry our clothes on the line or on an indoor drying rack (on wet days). We manage quite well.
I cannot imagine being without a refrigerator or a telephone, or even a television . . . but Todd says that his parents, and his mum, right up to their deaths in the early 1960's never had any of those things. I expect that one had to shop every day . . . for the perishables at any rate. I am old enough though to remember not having a telephone in our home when I was a child and no television. My mother would send me on my bicycle to find my father if we needed him and he was not at work on the base, or we would use the pay telephone . . . they were a lot more common in those days. You would not have had to go very far to find one. I saw my first television when I was almost five years old. It was my grandparent's, and it had the small round screen. How miraculous it seemed!! And they had a telephone too . . . it was an old crank one that hung on the wall, and everyone on the street had a different ring. And then there were party lines . . . you had to be very careful about what you spoke about on the telephone, because their was always at least one neighbor who was quite nosy and you never knew who would be listening in on your conversation.
I remember having school clothes and play clothes . . . and Sunday "go-to-meeting" clothes. You changed out of your school clothes as soon as you got home from school, and the Sunday clothes were only worn on Sunday's or special occasions like Birthday parties and the like. And it was only one special dress, and perhaps a hat . . . there wasn't a choice. For school I might have had two outfits that I swapped out, wearing one while the other was being washed and vice versa. Play clothes . . . probably only a few pairs of trousers and several tops.
And everyone wore a dressing gown over their pajamas . . . and slippers in the house.
We may have had a bathroom for pretty much the whole of my childhood . . . but we only had baths about once a week for the longest time, and that on Saturday nights. We also only washed our hair once a week, again on Saturday nights. When I got to be a teenager I washed my hair much more frequently, but it was done down in the basement at the washtub sink. I can still remember that damp smell . . .
Desserts, candy and potato chips were for celebrations, not every day occasions. It was a celebration if my mom baked a pie, or a cake . . . or even cookies. We snacked on apples, and weren't even allowed them very often. Eating in between meals was not very common and frowned upon. My, how things have changed!
I never ate in a restaurant as a child, or only very infrequently at best. I can remember on one occasion going with my father into town and he stopped at a restaurant and had a cup of coffee and I was served a Shirley Temple . . . and I found it to be quite exotic, especially the maraschino cherry in the bottom. The only time we ever got to eat in a restaurant was when my father was posted and we were moving house. Eating out was truly an occasion and an event!! There was no McDonalds in my childhood, or Burger King or any other fast food joint. Fast food was having to gobble down your dinner because you had someplace you needed to go and you were running late!
Saturday afternoon movies were a real treat. It cost 10 cents to get in and with my 25 cent allowance I was able to buy myself a drink and a popcorn as well . . . and still have change that I saved in my piggy bank . . . for a rainy day. People saved for rainy days back then, and never ever bought on credit if they could help it. The movies on Saturday afternoon always came with at least half an hour of cartoons at the outset, then previews, a serial and finally the main feature. The main feature was more often than not an old Three Stooges film, or Roy Rogers . . . the good movies were kept for Friday and Saturday nights I suppose, and not wasted on a theatre filled with children on a Saturday afternoon. We didn't mind. It was all entertainment.
There was the rare occasion as I got older that I went to a Birthday Party and was taken "en-group" to a special movie. That was how I got to see The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, The Junglebook and Follow Me Boys. So rare you see . . . that I can remember exactly which films I saw!
Oh yes, we are very spoiled today, with blessings too numerable to mention! We take ever so much for granted. I think it's good every so often to stop and take note of the many blessings we do have in our lives . . . like running water and warm fires in the winter, beds to sleep in and baths to wash in, hot and cold water on tap, refrigerators, washing machines and the like . . . more than one pair of shoes and dress up clothes to wear, televisions to watch, telephones to communicate with and . . . the greatest wonder of all, computers! Whatever would we do without them now!
Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair;
I envied her . . . she seemed so gay . . . and I wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile;
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two feet . . . the world is mine.
And then I stopped to buy some sweets.
I talked with him . . . he said to me:
"It's nice to talk with folks like you."
"You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes . . . the world is mine.
Then walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play; it seemed he knew not waht to do.
I stopped for a moment, then I said: "Why don't you join the others dear?"
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew . . . he could not hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two ears . . . the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I'd go,
With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I would know,
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I'm blessed indeed; the world is mine.
Day two of the transformation. Bare floor boards, and the wall has been plastered. He says that today will be quite loud as he will be putting in the floor. Very exciting stuff!!
I've decided what I am going to teach about in RS on Sunday as well. Testimony. Everyone has one or else we wouldn't be there. It should be interesting. (Or at least I hope it will be!!)
I got Todd an early Birthday gift this past week, a 25th anniversary DVD of Les Miserables, one of his favourite musicals. It is of a special concert which was held in the O2 arena to commemorate the anniversary. We have watched it over two evenings and it is fantastic. So very moving and touching. My friend Bonnie would love it because at the end Michael Ball sings, and she loves Michael Ball.
It brought back some special memories of the afternoon we spent in London going to see it at the Queen's Theatre in the East End and what a fabulous time we had together.
I have twaddled on long enough so will leave you now with a special thought . . .
"In prayer it is better to have a heart without words . . .
than words without a heart."
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . something for the kiddos . . . Baked Chicken Nugget Spaghetti.
Happy Day all!! May your Thursdays be truly blessed.