The practical things I am thankful for.
As I knelt for Communion yesterday in front of the creche at St. Agnes, I realized just how lucky I am with all the modern things I have been blessed with. I've heard that God chose this time, given all the millenia that has come before and will come after, to have you live your life because it is the time best suited to you to get you to Heaven.
I don't know what this time period says about me, but I don't know if I could've toughed it out back in the time of Herod. I don't know if I could've handled life without all the modern conveniences. I'm not high-maintenance, but life just a few generations ago seems much harder than what I deal with.
My grandmother cooked upwards of 30 meals a day. All this was done on a cast iron stove that used wood or coal or corn cobs for fuel in the firebox. There was no dial to set the temperature, no way to easily regulate the heat other than controlling how much wood (fuel) you used and adjusting the draft.
Grandma didn't have a microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, vacuum, non-stick pans, or even electricity until the 30s, to help her get dinner on the table. During the winter, a good deal of the food she served was from what she had canned during the fall and stored in the cellar or basement.
I'm thankful I don't have to run out in the snow and unbearable cold to use the outhouse. I have running water, not water I have to gather or pump. I don't have to worry that the pump or lines might freeze or that if I want warm water I have to make sure there is some reservoir in the stove. My house is reasonably warm and my kids don't have to wear caps to bed to keep out the chill.
Clothes are bought in a store and my underwear isn't made out of flour sacks. Sewing is a hobby and not a necessity. I've never had to darn any socks.
The only manual labor I do when it comes to laundry is carrying the clothes up and down the stairs since I have a washer and dryer that do most all of the work for me. I don't have to make my own soap from ashes from the stove and fat from slaughtered animals.
My kids get their bedtime stories read to them under electric lights, not oil lamps that need to be filled almost daily with oil and chimneys cleaned of soot.
I can't fathom how my grandmother did it, but Mary and Joseph must've been made of some strong stuff to have endured without, at times, even having a home. At this time of year I worry that my kids will be cold at night if they push off their covers, but sometimes forget that at least they have a bed and blankets and pillows. We all have a roof over our heads, food on the table, clean clothes in the drawers, and electrical outlets for all our appliances, computers and gizmos.
And, the only animals I have to share my home with use a litter box.