Gratitude

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By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

I have a time machine in my home. When I run my fingers over the smooth wooden doors, I’m transported to the turn of the century. Not this century, but 1900.

It’s a primitive piece, one of three hutches that belonged to my grandmother. Simplistic in design and function, it is a piece for which some people would pay a good deal of money, but I received it as an afterthought, a token given to the youngest grandchild of a woman old enough to be her great grandmother.

When Grandma departed without any of her worldly possessions, the generation previous to mine doled them out. I got the leftovers, the sturdy ugly duckling, forgotten behind the parlor door.

But really, I got the prize.

Each of Grandma’s three hutches represented a segment of her life’s journey. The most modern was a curved-glass china cabinet filled with curios and photographs and fancy dishes she rarely used. The middle-age hutch boasted intricate gingerbread curlicues and special compartments. But the hutch hidden behind the parlor door to the kitchen had been built by my carpenter grandfather for his old-maid bride.

Grandma laughed when she told me about that moniker. She’d been determined not to marry until her eighteenth birthday, and she stuck to her guns.

like to think I have a little of her tenacity.

After helping fight fires spawned by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, my grandfather went south with his bride and bought farmland in the San Joaquin Valley. Their first home had three walls with blankets enclosing the fourth side, according to stories my father told. I never questioned those stories. Just listened, amazed that people lived that way so recently in American history.

But poverty constrains many to be creative, so the Benjamin Chamberlain family made do with what they had.

The cabin was eventually replaced with a clapboard house, then replaced again when sons built a nicer home for their parents. The third house is the one I remember from my early childhood, where I walked barefoot in uncut grass cooled by sentinel shade trees. Violets grew freely in the grass, perfuming the air as I played.

Years later I realized the truth of the oft-quoted phrase: Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

Perhaps that was why Grandma’s grass was uncut.

My children never saw that home and its fragrant violets, but they grew up with the old hutch. Someday they may sell it and take the money instead of the memories.

But for now, I look at it and see my grandfather’s lack of wealth and abundance of love. I see the hope that drove him from destruction in San Francisco to a fresh start in the fertile central valley. I see the piece of forgotten furniture that my grandmother never got rid of even though she eventually had nicer things to replace it.

And I am grateful for the heritage, hardship, and hope that led to me and where I am today.

I have only one thing in this life that I have not been given by someone else – my attitude. Today – and most days, I pray – I choose gratitude.

~

Give thanks to the Lord
for He is good.
For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 136:1 NKJV

I have only one thing in this life that I have not been given. Click To Tweet

ALT="book cover for Mail-Order Misfire"Grateful to be on her way, Etta watched familiar countryside rush past the window. Anxiety vied with that gratitude—anxiety over the unknown into which she hurtled with each repetitious clack of wheels on the rail. She was leaving behind all she had ever known, heading for what she’d never imagined. Still couldn’t imagine. Had this been a foolish decision?  ~Mail-Order Misfire

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Barbara Raymond

    Wow! Loved this. What an amazing item and memories. Thank you for sharing.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Barbara. So glad you enjoyed it.

       
       
  2. Oh wow!!
    What a lovely glimpse into your family history! And what a treasured piece to bear witness to your grandfather’s love.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Jennifer. Time mellows us all.

       
       
  3. Lori Smanski

    oh but this is a wonderful post. a wonderful reminder. thank you for sharing with us. i love this quote from your grandmother. many blessing to you and yours this fabulous week.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Lori. Blessings to you as well this Thanksgiving season.

       
       
  4. Phylis Moore

    Wonderful post Davalynn! Thank you, thank you! Love to you and Mike and all your family. xoxo Phylis : D

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Phylis. Family is priceless. Thanks for reading and blessings to you!

       
       
  5. Eileen Hickman

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your heritage. I love your old hutch so much. It has both beauty and character. I hope one of your children will find a reason to keep it when it’s time to pass it on.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      How sweet. Thank you, Eileen.

       
       
  6. Karen Gee

    We need to be reminded of the hardships our grandparents endured. Life was very different then and their stories need to be shared with future generations.
    We are so blessed in these current times and don’t really realize it sometimes until we hear about the way previous generations lived.
    We just really need to stop and be thankful for our many, many blessings.
    God bless you for sharing this great story.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Amen, Karen. Thank you for your comment.

       
       

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