On a dreary day last month, we were in a right funk because the U-line fridge broke, Grit's truck had a leak and the soft water wasn't working.
Just as we were about to give in to our black mood, a friend sent us an email with pictures of the Depression. Looking through those dirty, sad faces of the hopeless, broken people we felt very ashamed. Here we were, worrying about a second refrigerator, soft water and a car.
How bourgeoisie of us.
We have never gone hungry in our lives unless we chose to. We live in a warm house and have a big, happy family.
Long ago, Grit and I agreed that nothing was really a problem as long as it could be fixed with money, and by that we didn't mean anything underhanded. More like the U-Line fridge and the truck, we found the right people to work on them and figured out how to pay even if it meant tightening our belts.
It isn't what we own or buy that signifies our wealth. It's the special gifts that have no price: family, friends and health.
Some of you may remember Charles (Chuck) Peterson who owned the Volkswagen dealership in Provo and was a state senator in the Legislature for many years. I had the privilege of living with his family one semester when I was in college because his daughter was and still is a very good friend. Chuck had a saying that carried a lot of wisdom: "Joy dwells in the ordinary."
We've just finished the best friendship/family season of the year. Don't know about you, but we had some extremely happy moments opening the Christmas cards and giving and receiving gifts from people we care about.
Our eldest granddaughter, Taryn, accepted a ring of engagement from Jason Bodine on Christmas. Fifty-three years ago, Grit gave me a ring on Christmas Eve. When we related that to her, she looked on it as a good sign.
Right now, we are thinking about her and the world we are living in that seems so polarized and uncertain.
We hope they will live a provident life. We hope their children, if they are so blessed, will live in peace, have a job and live a purposeful life.
Each era comes with different challenges. As we read the newspaper or observe people around us, we think how glad we are not to be rearing children because of the fast-paced world and all the trouble they can fall into. Perhaps our grandmothers felt the same way.
So much of Taryn and Jason's success will depend on finding the truth for their lives and being able to teach it to the next generation.
Good teachers gain understanding of how people work. Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz made a living as a motivational speaker after retiring from football. Speaking to a professional group, he advised, "Everybody needs four things in life: something to do, someone to love, someone to believe in and something to hope for."
He added three more simple rules: "Do right, do everything to the best of your ability with the time allotted and show people you care."
Broken fridges may discourage us, but when we discover a way to get things (ourselves included) repaired, we gain new perspective. That's why it is always a privilege to be granted another new year.