Thursday, December 8, 2011
She Set the Table for Me!
Auntie Anne and Uncle E.R.
I grew up poor; we had very little, but we didn’t know what we were missing. My dad was a single parent for a few years. An unfaithful wife left him alone with four kids under ten. We managed. We survived. We stayed close together through it all. Dad was the breadwinner and the bread-maker. There was no Friday night pizza tradition for us. It was the time to do laundry at the laundry mat in Grinnell.
Occasionally we made a trip south to Auntie Anne’s and Uncle E. R.’s house. They lived near St. James, Missouri, in what we thought was the most beautiful home we ever saw; it was one of those modern ranch homes complete with large windows overlooking a manicured lawn and flower garden. We had never been around anything so elegant.
We had no fancy silverware; ours was a hodge-podge of several sets. Our drinking glasses were the colored aluminum ones that set your teeth on edge when they touched the rim. Tableclothes and crystal were non-existent for us; we only heard about the rich having such luxuries.
But always, when we visited our dear auntie, she set her table for me. Crystal glasses were used which created rainbows and colorful prisms when placed on a sunny table. Plates were pulled from the china cupboard. Tablecloths and flowers covered the tables along with napkins, coffee cups, saucers, and soup bowls. The table was full of colors and smells.
I often think of this act of kindness and love and wonder how often I “set the table” for those around me who need to enjoy a crystal glass or two. Am I too self-absorbed in my own life to stop and consider the neighbor who is down on their luck and needing some care?
During the summer at camp, we try to set the table for many campers by offering them scholarships so they can attend. For the past several years, Hidden Acres has provided over $40,000 each summer in scholarships for families who need a touch of crystal and tablecloths in their lives.
We are grateful for our churches supporting us throughout the year with their regular gifts from the church budgets. In addition to our scholarships to campers, churches’ gifts allow us to keep our summer costs down. For every camper that attends Hidden Acres, it costs us $40 more than we receive from the registration fees. We had 2,012 campers last year, and lost $80,000+. Again we are grateful for the gifts from our churches which off set this loss.
You will be celebrating most of this month- too much food and too many presents to people who have everything they need. My challenge to you– set the table for someone or for a family around you that could use a touch of mercy and kindness.
Just last week I returned to Missouri to visit my dear auntie and uncle; it was their 70th anniversary celebration and I was asked to conduct the renewal of their vows. It was a thrill for me to be involved and to share the love and care they had shown me 50 years ago.
Kindness and generosity never go unnoticed; look around and set the table!