When I was a little girl, my family lived about an hour or so from both sets of my grandparents and my two great-grandmothers. This meant that any time we got to visit them, it was exciting and special.
My Great-Grandma Leora lived down the road from my maternal grandparents, in the old farmhouse that my grandpa had grown up in. The farm was across the road from an old schoolhouse and a little white country church (which happens to be the church my great-grandpa & she attended, where my grandparents attend, where my mom grew up & was married, and where Brad & I got married).
Being that I was a little girl, I don’t remember much about my great-grandma. She was always kind to me and always had some kind of treat, but beyond that and what she looked like, I didn’t know her well. I imagine I was too busy at 5- and 6-years old investigating the old toys in her closet to really have an in-depth conversation with her.
I do remember, though, that her house fascinated me. It always felt as though you were stepping back into time, with old-fashioned doorknobs, a claw-foot tub, a door that led up steep steps to the attic, that closet full of toys my mother had played with when she was little, and an old-home smell that was part mothballs, part ancient wood, and part good home cooking. (In case you think I’m crazy, that nearly exact same smell can be found inside of the built-in-1856 home at the historical farm near where we live. Every time we visit there, I think of my Great-grandma’s home.)
Her kitchen was especially memorable, not only because of the yummy cookies that came from there, but also because of the rainbow of light that came from her kitchen window. Above my great-grandma’s kitchen sink was a window looking out to the yard, and in the window sill were 4 brightly-colored plastic coasters (I didn’t know they were coasters at the time). When the sun shone in just right, the coasters cast a rainbow of red, yellow, green, and purple onto the floor or wall of the room. I’m not sure if that’s why she had them there or not, but to little-girl-me, it was magical.
I remember visiting her with my mother when Great-grandma was sick, and I wasn’t much older than 7 or 8 when she passed away. When my grandpa and his sister were sorting through Great-grandma’s estate, they allowed each of their children and grandchildren to walk through the house and pick out things that they would like to have to remember her. When it was my turn, the very first things I chose were the coasters from her kitchen window. They were probably worth very little in monetary terms (looking at them now, they weren’t even as old I was, and they were just a promotional item for an event at Lazarus, so they were likely free). Even my mother seemed amused when I asked for them.
To me, though, they were special.
Now that I’m a mom, remembering the wonder I found in something so simple makes me pause, ponder, and consider the world through my children’s eyes.
It’s amazing what children notice, remember, and prize. Something that we grown-ups might see as insignificant or worthless can be a fabulous treasure in a child’s eyes. My boys get excited over lots of things, such as rocks in the driveway, random feathers on the ground, lightning bugs in the yard, and getting stickers from the cashier at the grocery store. Aside from the lightning bugs (I love to watch lightning bugs!), those are things I can quite easily overlook in my busy “mom” world. But they spark joy, curiosity, and delight in my boys.
God created a beautiful world for us to enjoy, and I think there are plenty of times that we get so busy and distracted that we fail to appreciate it. We dismiss this or take them for granted because it seems common or ordinary or invaluable.
But children, with their innocence and inquisitiveness, never fail to take it all. Even though there may be times that I’d rather they didn’t notice every leaf, spider web, and bird in their path, (especially when we’re in a hurry, and I’m trying to get them into the car), I don’t want to do anything to discourage or dampen that fascination for them. I want them to hold on to that for as long as they can. It’s part of the sweetness of childhood – seeing the beauty and wonder in the common or simple things.
It also reminds me of the verse in Romans, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (Roman 1:20). My boys are noticing God’s “invisible attributes” in the world around them.
I want to encourage my boys to always appreciate the little things in the world, and I don’t want to be too busy myself to notice the tiny miracles around us.
My great-grandma’s coasters are a great reminder for me. Those little plastic discs now rest in the window sill above my kitchen sink, throwing glowing reds, purples, yellows, and greens across the floor and onto the wall to enchant and delight my children as well as myself. (Typing this I can see the colors shining through onto my living room wall, and they still make me smile). They are a little more worn than when I first got them, but they are still beautiful when the light hits them.
Once upon a time, I was the one easily seeing the value in the ordinary, and now every time I see a rainbow in my kitchen window, I get to remember how important that is.