A friend I haven’t seen in a really long time (maybe 12 years?) came to visit us today. She was interested in seeing our garden and our canning operation. It was really nice to get to visit and catch up with her, and I really appreciated her help! She helped us pick about a bushel of corn, five gallons of green beans, a mess of squash, and a few cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. It was a beautiful morning and a good picking!
As we picked, we caught up–she told me about her girls and what they are doing. They were in elementary school the last time I saw them. Now they are college graduates pursuing life. She had last seen my children when we only had four! We reminisced about the many holiday meals her family shared with my family in my parents’ home. There was a time when we were newly transplanted from Maryland to Georgia and my parents would invite all those we knew who did not have family with whom to spend their holidays. Holiday dinners were always merry affairs. Pinochle was usually played; often we would all sing. We even sang together in the church choir. Our group became a family of sorts, and we called ourselves the Belfry Bats.
My family didn’t always have that kind of fun. The truth was that things behind the jovial front were often complicated. Our family had more than its share of dysfunction. My parents were good at showing hospitality, though. They always wanted people to feel welcome on the holidays, and I think they did. My desire is to share that with those who visit my home…for people to feel welcome, to become a part of the rhythm and flow of our day or evening, to have the sense that their company is wanted. In my journey, I have decided that I need to take the good parts of my past and let them stand; the rest I can leave for the Lord to redeem. My friend is a sweet reminder of some of the good times in my teen years, and I am grateful to have seen her today.
Many hands make light work, the saying goes, and it is true! She was right in there with the girls and me–stringing and snapping beans, loading jars, wiping rims, putting on lids, handling the pressure canner. After she picked the corn she helped shuck it, cut the kernels off the cob and ready it for canning. It is waiting its turn in the canner now.
We left for the garden at 8:30 this morning; it is 5:00 now and we are still canning. Putting up food takes a lot of work, but the satisfaction of knowing what my children are eating, as well as the knowledge that we will eat all winter, makes the effort worthwhile. My friend’s amazement at our canning cupboard and what we have already put up was a reminder that what we are doing is special.
My friend also made me feel like I am doing a good job as a mom, teacher, and mentor to my children. I hope I can pour that kind of encouragement into the people around me. Her words were a gift, and I believe it is a special thing for someone to be able to pour that kind of love into someone else. My friend was a sweet aroma in our home today, and I was blessed to have her visit. I hope she comes back again. Besides, we can always use another hand picking beans!