Years ago, Sir Knight and I lived in a house on the outskirts of a small metropolitan area. The original part of the house had been constructed in the 1940's, however, it had been added onto many times in the years that followed. The fellow that did most of the "improvements" loved a bargain, and so, while remodeling, he scrapped out mobile homes and used the plumbing fixtures to plumb the house. He found a pipe there and a fitting here and made them work, however, when something broke and had to be replaced, it proved to be nearly impossible. When the floor in the bathroom became a little "mushy" he simply laid another layer of plywood over the top and added new carpet. After adding a living room addition (20' x 24'), he remembered that it needed to be included in the central heating and proceeded to install a 2"x2" heat register in the stair leading into the new addition. Yes, (1) 2"x2" register to heat an entire 20' x 24' room!
I cannot tell you how many times I complained about that house. I was ungrateful and lacked the vision to see the many blessings that had been heaped upon me. And then, we moved to an empty, metal shop, in the middle of a windswept prairie.
Once, I had complained about non-standard fixtures in the bathroom, now, the nearest thing to a bathroom we had was a bucket in the shed, lined with a plastic bag. My "mushy" bathroom floor had been replaced with unforgiving concrete with no indoor plumbing, running water or even so much as a door. I had scoffed at the idea of a tiny heat register in our living room only to end up in a shop with NO heat and night-time temperatures of 17°.
Moving into a "shouse" in the middle of the prairie was a gift from God. It was in this shouse that I learned to be thankful for every little thing. When I woke in the morning with my breath freezing into crystals in the subzero air, I became thankful for the warmth of my cozy bed and the piles of blankets wrapped around my children. After months of scampering outside in 40 mile an hour winds and changing plastic bags full of human waste, I was so grateful for a toilet in our "bathroom", that I didn't mind using 5 gallon buckets of water to flush, not one little bit. Having hauled water for everything from doing laundry, flushing the toilet, washing dishes, taking baths and cooking, my "cold water only" plumbing system was like a dream come true. Spending month after month with only 1 window in a 1200 square foot shouse, rendering it roughly the equivalent of a cave, I wept for joy when Sir Knight and my father installed 2 new windows to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in Little Shouse on the Prairie. After eating beans and rice and lentil burgers for more than a year, I still become giddy with excitement when walking out of Costco with a full cart of groceries.
Every once in a while I forget. I start looking around at everybody else and become discontent. I feel sorry for myself, telling myself that nobody else has to live in a shop. Everybody else has walls and doors. Everybody else has a bed for each of their children - they don't have to squeeze together because of a lack of floor space. The rest of America has closets, dressers and bathroom sinks. Oh, and some folks even have power! And then I remember. It doesn't matter what anybody else has or doesn't have. It matters that I am thankful. Period. End of story. And I am - truly thankful. I have God. I have a family that loves me. I have a roof that keeps the rain off. I have warm blankets and a cupboard full of food. I may not have what most people think they need to make them happy, but, in truth, I have EVERYTHING!
A great gift has been given to me - the gift of want. Through hardships and strife I have learned to be truly grateful - and that has a worth far above rubies.