Stores used to be closed on Sunday and the largest retail outlets were the old Ann-and-Hope and the Ames around the corner in East Providence. There were no Wal-Mart superstores to lose your mother in or to walk around for hours trying to find the person that you were with.
Life was simpler, even those seemingly-brief years ago when I was a little girl and we used to frequent the then "Mister Donut" in Seekonk.
It was always the square apple muffin that I chose. The lovely square apple muffin with the sugary caramelized apple chunks that weren't even close to being nutritious, but gave the aura of a nutritious lunch. That, and a small box of milk.
And once in a while, when I went there with my Dad, I would get a chocolate sprinkled donut, just to be like him. Unless, of course, he ordered the coffee roll, in which case, I was banned from eating such a large and "expensive" pastry.
We usually went there with my Mom. Now that I look back on it, I think that she brought us there to "break up" the long hours in her stay-at-home-Mom day, a respite in-between visiting one of the libraries that we used to frequent where we would sit for hours while she read book after book after book to us.
It was always exciting to enter into that warm and delicious-smelling donut shop, where we would take the teetering tray to our booth, the tray that was adorned with chunky glass plates and the silverware that used to be returned and washed at donut shops. None of this "throw-everything-away-culture" mentality back then.
We sat at our booth and watched the men who speckled the round-raised seats at the counter slurping their coffee and chatting away into the sunny afternoon.
Every crumb was carefully savored, every drop of milk drank and we wiped away the happy remains with a delighted satisfaction.
Things like that were meaningful to us as children. We didn't "have a lot" and so we were content, satisfied with the "simple."
And I watch children nowadays in donut shops, one greasy hand gripping a large-sized coolatta, a heavily-laden, whipped-cream-confection, their other hand grasping an expensive bakery sandwich.
And I watch them halfheartedly partake of their decadent lunches, and then crumble a quarter of the remains into a nonchalant pile of rubbish and toss it unthinkingly into the trash can.
I'm thankful now that I was raised without a lot of "stuff." I see it now as a gift from God that we were always struggling to make ends meet so that my Mom could scrape us through the Christian school that we attended and give us piano lessons.
I see it as a blessing now that our vacations were simple, uncluttered camping trips, that we ate a lot of meals of hamburger and beans and shepherd's pie and macaroni, that our refrigerator was never heavily-stocked.
It made me more deeply grateful for the special times in life, for the occasional cupcake at school, for the delight of the holidays, and made me anticipate my birthday all year long when I would get to choose the kind of cake that I had.
I'm glad that my Mama kept things simple when we were little . . . It made me treasure the important things and checked me from taking them for granted.
It's harder now to do that . . . There are restaurants and fast-food pit-stops on every corner. Stores are open 24-7 and you can get what you want whenever you want it.
Convenience is a blessing and a curse.
Kids walk around in expensive clothing and carry technology with them wherever they go. Their minds are distracted, caught up in all of the random, suffocating clutter of this age.
Clutter and noise that pushes out the gift of quietness and walking in the woods and resting by a stream and listening to the birds sing and the crickets chirping at night.
Noise that pushes out the voice of the Creator.
I think that I liked it better when things were simple.
So I try and the Lord gives grace to raise my babies the way that my Mom did. Without a lot of stuff -- whether by necessity or choice.
If I have to choose, may God give me grace to choose the simple.
I want my children to be in an atmosphere where they can hear His voice--there are enough distractions around already.
The simple, uncluttered way that leads to Jesus.
1.Photo credit: roboppy / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
2.Photo credit: Qfamily / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)