It was the worst of times for me because my husband and I were struggling financially. I was pregnant with our fourth child. My husband’s employment provided medical benefits but no maternity coverage, so we had paid for the delivery of each child plus a miscarriage. We also had a student loan we were paying off.
We cut the budget everywhere we could. I baked from scratch and sewed clothes for the kids. For Amy’s fifth birthday we made party favors out of things on hand. Amy was so excited about making Play-dough and sewing cards for her friends that she forgot they were bringing HER presents.
We were keeping up with the bills and even paying the doctor monthly when BOTH our cars died. They just up and quit, so dead there was no hope for resurrection. We still had to finish paying off the baby doctor, so we junked both cars and paid the doctor.
I could have whined about it and made myself and everyone around me miserable, but I remembered stories of my dad as a prisoner-of-war, with not enough clothes or heat to keep warm in the winter, and not enough food to calm a hungry stomach. I also remembered my grandfather fighting the Bolsheviks in Archangel, Russia, in the dead of winter during World War I. My circumstance was minor compared to things they endured.
So we were without a car when Christmas rolled around. We lived in Marina, California, where the biggest and only major store was a Safeway grocery store. For doctor appointments eight miles away in Monterey, Corey, age 3, and I rode the bus. For groceries, I pulled a little red wagon to the store about a half a mile from home, filled it with our groceries and pulled them home. For Christmas presents, I ordered from the JC Penny Catalog.
We wanted a Christmas tree, so my husband, kids (ages 7, 5, and 3) and I walked about a mile to the Christmas tree lot, purchased a tree, then carried it home.
It wasn’t so terrible. In fact, we have fond memories of carrying that tree home. We did it. What was the worst of times financially for us, became the best of times because we made the best of our circumstances. We didn’t whine about what we didn’t have but instead rejoiced in what we had.
We often hear stories how our ancestors sacrificed or suffered during trying times. It’s the trying times that leave a lasting memory. They often can’t tell us about the “good” days because they are unremarkable. The trying times, however, leave an impression, because they are stories of endurance, strength, and growth. We can gain our own strength as we learn from their experiences.
If you’re facing the “worst” of times today, may you find comfort and peace in the thought that someday you may look back on today as the “best” of times.
What ancestor stories give you courage to press on when you are struggling?