Broken Mint Candy

Last week the kids and I returned from a trek to Maryland, where I hoped to help my parents begin what will be the long process of cleaning out my late great aunt's home.  It's no secret that she liked to hold on to things longer than most, and that she kept many things most people would consider to be trash.  As a child of the depression, she saved and stored and kept.  I think that generation learned through living with nothing to collect and store up things long after collecting and storing was no longer a necessity, I suppose as an insurance policy.  Working through the kitchen mainly disposing of expired food, I came across one particularly noteworthy item that really stuck with me.

It's a prescription pill bottle.  Filled with pieces of broken peppermint candies.

At first I laughed.  "That's insane!" I thought.  And really, maybe it was.



I thought about that generation of men and women.  These are the men and women born in the teens and twenties.  These are the same men and women whose childhoods took place during the bleakness of the Great Depression.  These are the men and women who watched the entire world go to war and they either served in the armed forces or pitched in at home, but there was no opting out.  They were brave, savvy, and resourceful.

They had very little, so they learned to treasure everything.  Even broken mint pieces.  (She might have used those someday!)

How far have we come from this mindset?

Now, we have everything, and yet we treasure practically nothing.

I'm not suggesting we should start bottling our broken mint candies.  But I am suggesting that we pause for 0.2 seconds every once in a while and recognize the blessings staring us in the face.

Jon Acuff said on Facebook a couple of years ago:
If my grandfather, who fought in a tank in WWII, was alive I'd tell him what a hassle it is when a website makes you scroll a lot.
It's the fact that we totally ignore just how easy we have it.  We literally have the entire world at our fingertips.  And, what do we do?  We find ways to complain about it.

My own father once told me:
As my old friend from Bethlehem Steel used to say, if the Russians knew what kind of shape we're in they'd attack today.
And that's funny, except, it's not.  Because, by and large, my generation doesn't know what it is to be scared, or to struggle, or to think outside the box.  My generation is used to being served on a silver platter.  Only, we have grown tired of the silver platter and we're hoping to upgrade to platinum on someone else's dime, forgetting all the while that ceramic is more durable, cost-effective, and practical.

Folks, we've got it made.  And for some reason, we're constantly dissatisfied.  Let's not be.  The next time we're tempted to whine about something ridiculous - like, Saturday when my coffee tipped over at the kids' soccer fields and I declared something like, "Well, this has been a complete waste of a day!" - let's stop, take a deep breath, and remember -

If this is the worst thing that happens today, I'm doing alright.

Let's find things to treasure.  Smile at the perfect baby handprint on the glass.  Notice the sun rays peeking through the storm clouds.  Watch as a flock of birds flies through the sky with perfectly coordinated movements.  Thank the person with the thankless job who serves you every day.

Treasure all of it.  Even the broken mint candy.


Sara Lou said...


Tammy said...

Absolutely loved this! Thanks for sharing!

Tammy said...

Absolutely loved this! Thanks for sharing!

Emmie Collier said...

Well said, Jennie! How did I not know you had a blog? I look forward to seeing/reading more.

Sharon said...

Wonderful thoughts, Jennie. So true. My mom was a child during WWII, and she has a tendency to hoard. But, like you, I can understand the roots of that mindset. And, if I had to pick one end of the spectrum, I'd pick hers over the current culture of excess and entitlement and a lack of appreciation.

We all need to learn to never, ever take for granted the blessings we have. Especially the ones that will last forever...


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