A Year of Gifts
How can a pile of dirty hoodies, yoga pants and little slips of elastic that now pass as underwear be considered a gift?
I often cringe when a mound of smelly laundry suddenly appears next to the washing machine. It is one of those never-ending tasks where you never seem to catch up. It's easy to settle into a state of resignation, even frustration, over this particular household task that never seems to be done.
But all it takes is a tiny shift in mindset to look at those piles in an entirely new light. I experienced this recently when it dawned on me that we were only a couple of months away from the day when a significant portion of those clothes will be packed into the back of a small black Nissan and driven off to a dorm room. Another portion will be strategically loaded into a red Toyota for a much longer trip, half-way across the country.
As I looked around the messy room, a wave of gratitude washed over me. Those piles of clothes represented so much more than another mundane task. They signify the presence of our greatest blessings – our kids. The clothes themselves mean we were able to provide for them. Some they've purchased themselves because they work now, too. We shouldn't take that ability for granted. We have machines to help wash and dry the clothes, and although the washer shakes like crazy and has been torn apart and repaired multiple times, it still works. We live somewhere with electricity and abundant clean water. We're physically able to climb the stairs to the laundry room and toss a load in.
Suddenly the monotony of the task fades away, replaced by the beauty of the blessings the dirty laundry represents.
When I get home from work at the end of a long day, and the kitchen looks like it did when I left the house ten hours earlier (aka no one has thought to start supper), I can become frustrated. I gaze into the fridge, often without one single idea what to make. Now is when I need to take a deep breath and feel appreciation that the refrigerator isn't bare. There might not be the makings for a full course meal in there, but we won't starve. And finding containers of leftovers from the night before is like finding gold. I remind myself that if the kids grumble over the prospect of reheating last night's dinner for a quick meal now, they'll eventually appreciate the beauty of leftovers, once they're off on their own.
When I start to feel anxious because the house is dusty and cluttered, I need to remind myself that it still provides a roof over our heads, protection from the outside world, and a safe place to sleep at night. Too many people have no place to call home. Shame on me for grumbling over cleaning it up once in a while.
Vehicles can be a money suck: they require gas, new tires once in a while, repairs, and insurance. The gas runs out and needs to be refilled. The cars get dirty and need to be washed. If we aren't careful, we can find ourselves sighing again. But vehicles also provide essential modes of transportation that allow us to get to work, run errands, go out for a fun evening, and travel to see family and friends. Around here, where there is little public transportation, one would be hard-pressed to function well without a vehicle.
I could go on and on, but I know you get my point.
Having loved ones to feed and clothe, food in the cupboards, and a roof over our heads means we are blessed beyond measure.
As a fiction writer, I like to explore the complexity of every day, the gifts we find as we go about living life. The reality is many of these gifts go unnoticed and unappreciated when we don't make a conscious effort to look for the blessings. So much of our joy in life is found in the small, day-to-day experiences we live, but sometimes we forget this.
In my newest book, Rebuilding Home, the very first chapter is titled "Gift of Dirty Laundry." Ethan, the main character, is struggling to maintain their household after his wife has walked out. Yes, he has mounds of smelly football gear and stinky teenage boys' clothes piling up in the laundry room, but at least he still has his kids.
Our homes and the people we share home with should never be taken for granted. Yes, it takes work to keep everyone clothed and fed, but over time, the demands on our time will shift. Some years will be busier than others, filled to overflowing with seemingly dull household tasks. But if we work to view those tasks in a new light, there can be joy found in completing them.
If you spend much of your days maintaining a household, you are doing important work. If you spend your day working hard away from home, earning money to use to hire others to help maintain your home, that's important, too. The point is to keep your eyes open to see the blessings in it all.
And in the spirit of full disclosure, everyone pitches in at our house and does much of their own laundry. I'm a busy woman, and we are all capable of washing clothes. So, while the kids might not agree, teaching them to be self-sufficient is a blessing as well.
Joy is the reward for a job well done, and all jobs are important. May your day be filled with blessings, even if some of your hours are spent sorting through dirty laundry. Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!