The other night as I crawled beneath my electric blanket I breathed a prayer of thanks. I am truly thankful that I have a warm bed to sleep in.
This year I waited until mid-December to put on the electric blanket. I had flannel sheets on the bed first, so that kept me warm until it got really cold. I do not heat my upstairs so the comfort of the electric blanket is most welcome.
A side note on my electric blanket the other night as I bent down to adjust the controls my dog bounded onto the bed hitting me squarely in the mouth. When I tasted blood I figured I'd better check it out. At that point I could not see much so I just went to bed.
The dog crouched down because she thought she'd been naughty since I yelled when she hit me. When I went to church on Christmas Eve the lady greeting and handing out bulletins told me whatever I had been eating was still on my lip. I told her about the dog episode and she just laughed. By then the dried blood made my lips very black!
When I think back to what it was like when we first moved to Hickory Heights I marvel at how we coped. At first there were not even storm windows on the upstairs windows. Many of the ceilings were not in tact so the draft from the attic made the upstairs even cooler. All I knew is that we had room for our family. It was far better than the mobile home that we moved out of. I was willing to do whatever it took just to have the space.
We had plenty of blankets so our beds were piled high with them to keep warm. Upstairs was not a place that you wanted to spend time. You hurried to climb into bed then hurried again in the morning to get back downstairs. You did not go to your bedroom to relax. It was strictly the sleeping place. Our bedrooms were no "oasis" as so many people look for these days.
Even in those less than ideal conditions, I realize how fortunate we were. There are people even today who have no warm beds to sleep in. I am not sure how the homeless cope, but they do. Maybe the Lord keeps special watch over them.
I cannot imagine sleeping outside on a bench or a piece of cardboard under a bridge when the temperatures go below zero. Then, there is the issue of food. The homeless have nothing to eat unless they find something that someone has discarded.
We recently celebrated Christmas with all of its excesses. I feel somewhat guilty knowing that others suffered while I was warm and cozy not to mention the beautiful gifts that I received.
The economy has not been promising for the last couple years, but most people did not get to the point of not having a bed. People complained about tightening their belts and doing without, but the without they talked about does not compare to the plight of the homeless.
There are some people alive today who experienced the Great Depression. That time of having so little impacted their lives forever. Those people grew strong. They learned to approach life with frugality. They learned to give thanks for the little things in life.
Christmas was not the extravaganza it is today. Children were happy with a stocking filled with fruit and candy. Gifts were homemade, made with scraps of wood, cloth, and yarn.
Families were happier then. They lived for each other. They worked together. They played simple games and enjoyed the out of doors.
I was fortunate to be born after the Depression, but because of all my family had suffered I learned to do with little and enjoy simple pleasures. My mom did the best she could, but being a single mother was no easier in those days. She did not go on welfare that was too degrading. We managed on what she earned and were proud of it.
When I listen to young folks give their requirements for a house I am floored. How can they expect to pay for all of that Why do they need such extravagance
It is good for young people to experience want. It is good for them to have to make do. There are lessons to be learned.
One of the lessons to be learned is that we are all in this thing called life together. We need to help others. There is always someone who has less than we do. No man is an island. We should not look down on the homeless. We should ease their burden by maintaining shelters and providing meals. Out of our abundance - yes, even if you have less than you usually do you should give.
As we begin this New Year may we be reminded of just how fortunate we are. If you had a bed last night you are more fortunate than some. Help by giving to your church or a local charity so that others less fortunate may have the basic necessities. Charity does not end at Christmas. It should be a year-long commitment.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org