We must try to do the best we can

Are you content with your life and what you have? Think about it.

What fun it was growing up on the farm when I was a kid. We had everything anyone could ask for. Oh, we had no money, but we had plenty to eat and clothes to wear (even if most of them were hand-me-downs). We had a comfortable home with our own comfy beds.

Our house, as all houses in the country, were heated by a wood stove. We even cooked on a wood stove for many years. It was my privilege to get to fill the little bucket behind the wood stove with wood chips or dry cobs to start the fires each morning. I was convinced that it was a very important job that kept the home running smoothly.

Back then, we studied and read by coal oil lamps. It was a constant chore to keep the chimneys clean of soot, but that was my job since I was small then and had little hands. I though it was a special assignment. I loved doing it. Every evening when Mother lit the lamps and the lights came "on," I felt real important and helpful. Needless to say, everyone, no matter how small, had a job to do back then to keep a home running. And we did it without pay; it was just our part of being a family.

My point in telling you all of this is that we were content with what we had. We were never allowed to whine about anything and our requests were simple. Kids didn't want the moon for Christmas. In fact, we were tickled to get a simple doll or doll clothes and underwear and an orange, and an apple and a little candy in our socks. We didn't beg for stuff, but we didn't even know it was available since we had no television and few catalogs.

When mealtime came, we all sat at the table and ate at the same time, and ate what was put before us and were thankful. We were not finicky eaters and Mother did not run a short-order establishment. We all ate the same things. We did not eat between meals unless we all had a snack after school or following the completion of a difficult job. Then we used it as a treat. But we didn't pick all the time and then not eat at mealtime after Mother has spent time preparing a healthy meal.

We were content with everything we had. We were so blessed to live in the country and have enough to eat when many “town” kids' families didn't have a garden and their own meat source and chickens and eggs and milk and butter and a resourceful mother who picked plums and wild blackberries in season and was a great planner. I know times were hard in those days, but I never heard my mother complain or whimper about her lot in life. She acted like it was a real pleasure to provide for her family and be frugal.

I have come a long way from what I had when I was a kid. Haven't we all? I feel almost sorry for people who did not have the basic appreciation of life that I had. Many kids today were born into affluence, and do not know how to do without things they think they must have to get by. We lived years and years without television or electricity or trips to town to make purchases. We made-do with what we had and had a wonderful life.

I can remember our cousins from town who came to visit us in the summer. They were amazed at how much fun we had and how we were so content and happy and lucky. It was all in the way we were taught to appreciate things. We could have whined about not having electricity and running water and the luxuries that afforded, but instead we enjoyed the trips to the spring to get water or loved pumping water out of the well on wash day. All of this was our attitude and learning to appreciate where we were and what we had and sharing it with others.

How time consuming that must have been for Mother to do laundry in a gasoline Maytag wringer washing machine. Or worse yet, to wash things out on a washboard in a tub, but we had a wonderful time growing up and because of her happy disposition, believed in our hearts that Mother was having a great time. That attitude has served me all of my life. I have no trouble keeping the commandment to not covet. I am content and appreciate our modern conveniences and comforts.

Having said all this, however, let us never be so content that we fail to keep active and continue to learn new things and keep our house in order; but we are all much happier if we enjoy the simple things of life and don't compare ourselves to others. Contentment is comforting.

Are we content with simple foods? It is hard to beat the taste of a roasting ear straight from the field. Or fresh tomatoes right out of the garden. Is anything better than a loaf of bread fresh from the oven, or warm cookies with a glass of cold milk, or fried fish that are just caught and dressed and rolled in corn meal and fried for supper? Or anything our mothers baked and lovingly cooked just for us? Or the improvised meals our grandmothers scrounged up from her pantry and cellar?

Often my wonderful readers comment on my articles. It is mostly from people who were reared in the same era I was. We have the same values and attitudes because we were all brought up that way. We were taught to appreciate what we had. We were taught manners. We were taught to share. We were taught a strict moral code. I am grateful, content and blessed. Those days are here again and we need to rethink our values and count our blessings. This too shall pass!

A friend shared this delicious pie recipe with me last week. It is wonderful and so very easy. I came right home and whipped it up for company and they “had a fit” over it. I know you will love it too. We call it:

Cutie Pie

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

Dash salt

6 ounces evaporated milk (I used 5 because that is the way it is canned now.)

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup pecan pieces

1 unbaked 9- or 10-inch pie crust

Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, milk, eggs, vanilla and butter until smooth. Then stir in coconut and pecans. Pour in unbaked pie crust and bake 40 to 50 minutes in 350-degree oven. Serve with whipped cream. Yummy!

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Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle​. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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