Thank you to everyone who joined me over at (in)Courage! It was fun to have a chance to write over there, I love how the whole blog just lives up to its name, don’t you?
I know that so many of you also struggled with hard family situations growing up, and sometimes it’s easy to dwell on the bad things. But there’s one thing that I’ve been blessed with for which I just can’t be thankful enough:
I have a really, really excellent father.
There are a thousand little things my dad did that I’ll never forget. They maybe don’t sound like much written out like this, but they made a world of difference: My dad learned to braid, and he used to braid my hair for me before I went to school. My dad learned to cook, and he taught me that cooking dinner is an art form to be studied, fine-tuned, and thoroughly appreciated. When I was tiny, on Sunday mornings he’d take me to get a sweet roll and a glass of chocolate milk at his favorite restaurant, and afterwards we’d walk down Main Street to Poor Richards and he’d buy a newspaper for himself, a roll of Lifesavers for me.
About the time I was in Fifth Grade and these things became very important, my dad started making lunches for me and my brother to take to school. If you’ve ever been a Fifth-Grader, then you know: You can judge how much a kid is loved by the contents of her lunch box. Whatever the truth behind that statement, it was universally known to every kid…even if you could only afford PB&J, if the crusts are cut off and the sandwich is cut into little triangles it’s like a love note in your lunchbox. My brother and I remember: Ham and cheese sandwich cut in two, package of fun fruits (the original, old-school kind that looked sort of like rodent droppings but actually contained real fruit), a little bag of chips, orange Hi-C fruit punch in a box, an apple or some other piece of fruit to neglect, and some Duplex cookies.
And we could count on those lunches. Making lunches every school night, week after week and year after year, is a tedious business! It’s the way daily life with a family is, though. You put your best efforts into it and you make the lunch, make the dinner, wash the dishes, do the laundry…and it’s all consumed, it’s all undone at the end of the day and the same tasks reset themselves in the morning. Then you do it again the next day. It seems pointless and endless and unyieldingly dull and so unimportant at times. But it turns out that it’s that sort of thing, the “lunchbox love,” that makes or breaks a family.
Over the years there were many, many more examples of my dad’s Lunchbox Love. Dad did his best to take care of us, to protect us, to give us the sort of little details that other kids took for granted but meant so much. And he did it all while working to support us, while doing an amazing job at what he did. There are many graduates from two different Universities who will quickly tell you that my dad is the reason they made it through school. I know for certain that he’s the only reason I made it through.
One of the biggest blessings in my life has been seeing my dad now, happy and thriving. My stepmom came into my life right at the point when I was starting a family of my own, and she has blessed me by taking the time to teach me hundreds of things about being a wife and mother, very often without even knowing she’s doing it. She’s blessed us all by bringing a smile to my dad’s face, by living life to the fullest with him. And I’m blessed that my husband is also an amazing father, and that we get to do this family thing together. I’m thankful for that, for Lunchbox Love and beauty from ashes and family, for family.
Photo from a stock photo collection