As a single mother of four extremely busy children, I seldom have time to consider the future. As a student myself, I thought for sure that December would be a time when things would begin to slow down.
I just needed to finish my fall coursework and then I would have two weeks to myself.
As I was putting the finishing touches on my last final exam, the sky opened up and a delicate flurry began to dance its way to the valley floor.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, this beautiful blanket of white had no intentions of melting away any time soon. The first couple of snow days were filled with snowball fights, snowmen, hot chocolate and sledding.
Somewhere around day three, an interesting phenomenon set in. The laundry began to grow as if it had been injected by some strange multiplying serum. The laughing turned into bickering and the serene landscape began to feel more like a prison of white.
Often referred to as “cabin fever,” this madness left me in what could best be described as a state of frenzy. I was suddenly overcome with a realization: when in our busy schedules do we ever get time as family to spend a weekend together with no obligations? Could this somehow be the blessing I had been asking for?
My heart longs to be home with my children and here we all were. This thought somehow permeated my irritability and I began to reconsider how we were spending our time.
One of my boys had been begging me to get out this tote of things that had belonged to my great uncle. Being southern, we call him our uncle even though I am not sure what our blood relation actually is.
This tote had been carried through about four moves, and aside from glancing at it when we transferred the box to a tote after the funeral, we hadn’t really spent any time looking at its contents.
So, on a snowy day early in December, we opened the lid of this dusty box. What we found, I hadn’t been expecting at all. The box contained nothing of monetary value. In fact, by many standards the box was filled with rubbish.
But we were transfixed. It was like pulling back the layers of an age old mystery. As we pulled out photographs, pocket knives, an old western union gram and an old Buck Rogers Tootsie toy rocket, we were drawn into the life of this curious man we hardly knew.
We began to have this discussion about who he was and what he valued. Though all we had to reference was this box, a story began to unfold about the incredible life this man had led.
Themes emerged from the piles of photographs and belongings. You could tell what really mattered to this man: his faith, his family and his community.
Our conversation carried late into the night about what our boxes would look like if someone were to unpack them. How had we spent the time we were given?
We often say that we value something, but when we’re no longer on this earth and all that is left is a box or two telling the story we left behind, what would it really get down to?
Perhaps some of the best gifts I can give my children are not gifts that can be bought. Perhaps the legacy I am leaving behind is intertwined into each of the moments I pour into my family, and the challenges in my life are really blessings in disguise.
What we found, I hadn’t been expecting at all.