Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Calvinist blues

First, let me be honest.

I'm writing from the first floor--I hesitate to call it a basement--of a brand new house my wife and I built out there in the country, miles and miles of farmland just outside the spacious window to my right where, this morning, soon enough the sun will rise and glaze all that farmland in heavenly finery. 

I'm not St. Francis of Assissi when it comes to worldly things.  Shoot, I've got an Aeron chair beneath me, a throne.

But here's the story.

For years we had this deck table, heavy plastic top, scrawny crooked legs. It sat on our deck, as deck tables should, suffering the abuse of Iowa seasons but generally holding its shape in a fashion I would have been proud of myself if I'd have done it. Anyway, emphasis on years.

When we moved from town to the farm house we rented, it stood out beneath a magnificent cottonwood, just a few steps from the river, where, occasionally, it would do what good picnic tables do--hold chocolate and marshmallows and graham crackers and an occasional hot dog. It got rained on, snowed on, blown down, etc., but still came back to serve us, rather selflessly, I'd say.

When we moved to the new house, it came along. Our back yard is a work-in-progress, but that deck table stayed out back until one winter night when a full-scale, northwest wind grabbed it in the crevice where I'd parked it and banged it madly against the house.  I pulled on a coat and boots, grabbed the noisemaker and dragged it into a basement back room, where it sat, unused, unloved.

So July 3, we were cleaning up the mess in the back yard when we realized something had to be done. That deck table has done yeoman's service for us, but its time had come and gone. 

Now had we still been in town, I would have dragged it out to the street and made it clear that if someone wanted it, they could simply take it away. It would have been gone in half hour.  But here we are in the country. So voila! I thought--how about one of those Facebook swap shops? I took the picture above, created a page ("Free, just in time for the Fourth"), and two minutes later, no more, a name I didn't know posted:  "I want it" or something similarly declarative.

"Can I come and get it tomorrow?" she wrote. 

By this time, we wanted it gone. As in now. "We just may deliver," I typed in. "Where are you?"

"LeMars," she wrote. 

Twenty minutes south. Bring her the dumb thing, we thought. "Where do you live?" I wrote.

"Meet me at Bob's Drive-In," she said. 

And I get a hot dog, too.

So we did. She was thrilled. Young, pretty mom, single mom, whose daughter she said, would be thrilled because somehow their deck table didn't make it through the Iowa seasons or something. I don't remember exactly. What I remember is that she loved it. Seriously. She loved it. Then we ate hot dogs.

Only a true Calvinist would say this, but it's true:  I felt guilty about feeling so blessed.

Seriously, that old table served us well, but we've wanted it gone for quite some time and I had no idea how we were going to do that (you can't just put it in the garbage). Stem to stern, it was no more than an hour, and everything was pure win/win. We got rid of the table--hallelujah!--and tatooed single mom was thrilled.  Win/win.

The whole affair just made me realize, even after two moves, how much stuff we still got, really, and how much stuff we could so joyfully get rid of.  

Like I said, only a Calvinist can have that much fun--and a hot dog too, not just any hot dog either--and still feel guilty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So that's where that Hot Dog story started from! Bless you for sharing, we often forget that others can't afford what we thought was our trash.