Spring cleaning is coming late this year. As I tackle each room I am struck with how much stuff I have. I think back to a simpler time.
When I was a little girl I owned two pairs of shoes. One for every day and one for Sunday. In the summer my mom would buy us flip flops for a few cents at the dime store. My clothes were often handmade. There was a new dress at Christmas and Easter. I remember feeling extravagant picking out a pair of white gloves at Easter from the neat row at the J C Penny counter and a new handkerchief from Kresge, the local dime store. We wore things until they wore out. We also wore things until they were dirty. I remember often wearing the same dress to school two or three days in a row. Designer labels were non-existent. We had good clothes and play clothes. Our play clothes consisted of any odd combination that was sturdy and warm. I have pictures to prove the odd factor.
Possessions were few and more valuable. I had one stuffed animal, a rather small teddy bear with button eyes. I entertained myself with a drawer full of paper dolls. Some were cut out of magazines, some were purchased at the local dime store for a few cents. We played jacks and Chinese jump rope. Reading the “World Book Encyclopedia” was also a favorite pastime.
Summers were spent working in the garden, reading books, climbing trees and riding bikes down the gravel roads. We played games like hide and seek, kick the can, red rover and freeze tag.
Our house had one bathroom for five people. There was one telephone conveniently located between the kitchen and dining room. (Or not so convenient if you wanted privacy.) At first it was a party line which meant the neighbor had the same connection as you. If they were on the phone at their house we couldn’t make a call until they hung up. My father bought the first TV for the family when I was about 4. It was a small black and white portable. There were three channels ABC, NBC and CBS. Channel 10 was reserved for educational programming. PBS didn’t arrive until 1970.
We had what we needed. It was more than enough.
My father grew up during the depression. He was one of eleven children. His parents were German immigrants who farmed in North Dakota. At one point they lost the farm because my grandfather couldn’t pay the taxes. They struggled to make a living. Family and God were the most important to them. They didn’t have much else. It was enough.
I look around at my house again and wonder if I’ve forgotten where my real home is. It appears I have taken up permanent residence here. I think of the song we use to sing as children.
This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world any more.
So I once more shift my gaze from the temporal to the eternal. I lay aside all these things that distract and pull my heart away from Him…realizing there is great poverty in riches.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 (NASB)