“You Had to Go in an Outhouse?!?”

I’m thankful for my Thanksgiving lesson this year. While spending time with my husband’s parents this holiday weekend, one late night discussion turned to the topic of their childhood. What an incredible difference their way of life was from my current lifestyle! Consider some of the dissimilarities I learned of…

Me: Wake up toasty warm in my memory foam-topped bed.
Them: Wake up freezing under 8-10 blankets with frost in the windows.

Me: Warm, clean indoor bathroom.
Them: Outhouse or bucket on the porch. (His mom didn’t have indoor plumbing until college!)

Me: Simply flick my wrist to turn on the sink knob to brush my teeth or make my morning coffee.
Them: Pump and bring in water to drink, cook with, do dishes, take a bath, etc.

Me: Microwave leftovers for lunch or order pizza for dinner, if I desire.
Them: Cook all meals over a coal-burning stove from scratch.

Me: Change and throw away disposable diapers.
Them: Hand wash dirty cloth diapers. (His mom had to help with this, because she had younger siblings to help care for.)

Me: Turn on my bedside lamp to read at night.
Them: Use a dim oil-burning lamp at dinner and to read by at night. (They didn’t have electricity until elementary school.)

The list of dissimilarities could go on and on, and I can’t stop pondering it all. (Having a conversation with a family member about this sort of thing is quite unlike reading about it in a textbook. Why couldn’t I have realized that as a teenager?!?) Here are two brief thoughts I’ve had since our Thanksgiving talk:

What do I complain about and why?

“Another potty accident by my 2-year-old! I get so tired of doing his laundry.”
“Car problems, again?!?”
“I don’t get enough ‘me time’.”
“If only we had a bigger house…”

I’ve clearly forgotten many truths. My complaints are ridiculous in light of what God has given me and how easy our life is in many ways compared to a few decades ago. When I find myself complaining, I want to instead be thankful for all that I’ve been given by God (all good gifts come from our Father in Heaven, after all). Additionally, I hope to remember just how hard Nathan’s parents had to work for what I consider “basics” (all things I take for granted—food, indoor plumbing, easy transportation, etc), and in turn keep me mindful of how “good” I have it.

How does modern technology keep me from spending significant relational time with my family and friends?

For instance, Nathan and I often spend a whole evening after the kids go to bed on our computers. One of the only interactions we might have is, “Is the internet slow for you, too?” Sad, I know. On Thanksgiving Day, Nathan’s mom’s siblings all got together and clearly enjoyed one another’s company for hours on end. I’m sure much of their affinity for one another was due in part to the uninterrupted quantity and quality of time they had together as children. I want to create time like that for our family, too–time when we close our laptops, ignore phone calls, and turn off the television. Although these modern advances are certainly good gifts from God, I don’t want to misuse them and ultimately lose precious relational time with my husband, kids, and others in our lives.

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