Little House Lessons

 

Think of having a cup and a cake and a stick of candy and a penny.

There had never been such a Christmas.

Little House on the Prairie

Yes, yes, I know Christmas is over. This little passage just came out of nowhere and landed in my mind today for some reason. It might be because of the clean out and organizing that happens just after the holidays. It might be because I feel a little guilty that I got the cool new side-by-side Keurig when my 7-year-old model was still working fine. (Although that one is going to my place of employment now because coffee is life.) Or because I’m thinking about the pile in the garage I have neglected to take to a donation center before the end of the year. My cup overfloweth, and not in a good way.

So I dug out A Little House Christmas, which is a compilation of stories from the Little House books, and read the chapter that included the above passage aloud to my grown kids this morning while they made breakfast. They smiled through the entire thing, but at the end chuckled that if kids today got those things in a Christmas stocking, they’d probably cry. They aren’t wrong. As sweet as the story is, we tend to romanticize those times as simple, but that life could be pretty harsh. I admit I most likely wouldn’t be able to survive it knowing what I know now. Ma Ingalls did not have a garage in which to store stuff she wasn’t using.

Little House book cover

The lesson here is that there is joy and happiness to be found in the simple things in life. No matter what the simple things are that pertain to you here and now. You get to determine that. And yes I am referring to tangible things; we all have stuff we like. When I was a kid in the 60s/70s, that meant looking forward to the Life Saver Storybook, a plastic candy cane full of M&Ms, peppermint candy canes, an orange, and some nuts in my stocking; a toy, a book, and maybe an item of clothing wrapped under the tree. Then you get married and/or have kids or just get older and the list changes. Now? Think of having a Hydroflask travel mug and a K-cup and a Keurig and a bag of Dove dark chocolates and a $100 check from your mother-in-law. There had never been such a Christmas. I hope yours was Merry.

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  1. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    • #1
  2. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery
    @LauraGadbery

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    Hahahaha! Can you come do one at my house next? 

    • #2
  3. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    I try every day to remind myself that we are living in the land and time of plenty, blessed with abundant food, housing, heat, transportation, employment, and so on.  

    My grand parents, and their parents, never saw anything like the lifestyle that is considered ‘poverty’ in America today.  Cell phones, internet, automobiles, supermarkets.  Grandma scraped the inside of the eggshells when she opened them so as not to waste any egg white- and was thankful for the extra nourishment for her family she could eek out of them.  

    The lesson of the Little House stories is, as you say, to see that happiness is in the simple things. But also that if we spent more time counting our blessings than we do listing our dissapointments and unfulfilled desires we would pretty easily realize that we have nothing to complain about.  

    Life has always been hard.  Never less so than today.  

    So next time you are depressed and angry because your car won’t start or your rent went up, try to remember those who suffered hunger and cold on a daily basis yet still were not angry nor depressed, but thankful for that which they did have.  It isn’t always easy, but it will change your world.  

     

    • #3
  4. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery
    @LauraGadbery

    PHenry (View Comment):

    Life has always been hard. Never less so than today.

    So next time you are depressed and angry because your car won’t start or your rent went up, try to remember those who suffered hunger and cold on a daily basis yet still were not angry nor depressed, but thankful for that which they did have. It isn’t always easy, but it will change your world.

    Yes, indeed.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    I’m glad somebody is able to absorb more of the mediocre coffee in the world. 

    • #5
  6. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I’m glad somebody is able to absorb more of the mediocre coffee in the world. 

    The coffee I drink probably doesn’t even qualify as “mediocre.”

    • #6
  7. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I’m glad somebody is able to absorb more of the mediocre coffee in the world.

    The coffee I drink probably doesn’t even qualify as “mediocre.”

    I’ve had several compliments on my coffee made from 8 o’clock whole bean original blend. It’s usually the cheapest stuff in the store, but I like it. 

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I’m glad somebody is able to absorb more of the mediocre coffee in the world.

    The coffee I drink probably doesn’t even qualify as “mediocre.”

    I’ve had several compliments on my coffee made from 8 o’clock whole bean original blend. It’s usually the cheapest stuff in the store, but I like it.

    There have been blind taste tests in which 8 o’clock does quite well. We’re not above using it when we run out of good beans from our preferred sources.  

    • #8
  9. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Laura Gadbery (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    Hahahaha! Can you come do one at my house next?

    You have to talk Keurig into it.

    We’re using a new type (to us and our concrete vendor) of concrete.  It’s supposed to crack less and need fewer control joints.  Makes the forklift rides smoother.

    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I’m glad somebody is able to absorb more of the mediocre coffee in the world.

    The coffee I drink probably doesn’t even qualify as “mediocre.”

    I’ve had several compliments on my coffee made from 8 o’clock whole bean original blend. It’s usually the cheapest stuff in the store, but I like it.

    There have been blind taste tests in which 8 o’clock does quite well. We’re not above using it when we run out of good beans from our preferred sources.

    By the way, readers of the Little House books will remember that during the Long Winter the Ingalls family ground a coarse flour from wheat in their coffee grinders. This was being done all through the wintry parts of the Great Plains where the trains couldn’t get through. Note, though, that they had coffee grinders.  For grinding whole beans, which were roasted at home. They didn’t have to settle for Keurig coffee.

    • #10
  11. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    What is the water capacity for that thing? 

    • #11
  12. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    TBA (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    What is the water capacity for that thing?

    I’m not sure.  Maybe five gallons a yard.  I think the pours have been running a couple of hundred yards.

    • #12
  13. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    What is the water capacity for that thing?

    I’m not sure. Maybe five gallons a yard. I think the pours have been running a couple of hundred yards.

    I meant for the Keurig pot that requires that much foundation. I hope I didn’t make you do math. 

    • #13
  14. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    TBA (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    You’ll be glad to learn that we’re pouring concrete for a Keurig expansion right now.

    What is the water capacity for that thing?

    I’m not sure. Maybe five gallons a yard. I think the pours have been running a couple of hundred yards.

    I meant for the Keurig pot that requires that much foundation. I hope I didn’t make you do math.

    I only do arithmetic.

    • #14
  15. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Laura Gadbery: Yes, yes, I know Christmas is over.

    No, no. It isn’t. This is the seventh day of Christmas. Have you rounded up your leaping lords yet?

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I liked the books.  I read them all to my daughter and they were quite nice.  That inspired us to watch the TV show.  The first season was good, the second, too.  Then it slowly started to go bad.  They were so fixated on having very young girls getting married, and after reading all the claims about nearly all the women and girls being molested by the actors, it just started to seem creepy.  I couldn’t take it anymore.

    The most eye opening part of the books was the account about the locusts.  I had never known that North America had locusts.  I’m very proud that we killed them all off and they are now extinct!  Way to go USA!  Now for the mosquito!

    • #16
  17. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Laura Gadbery: The lesson here is that there is joy and happiness to be found in the simple things in life. No matter what the simple things are that pertain to you here and now.

    Sure, you can be happy no matter your circumstances, it’s a matter of choice to be happy.  I suppose, unless you have depression or some other malady.

    So although those days were good for some important reasons, today is much better because one child died  as an infant, and Mary Ingalls went blind as a teen because she lacked basic medicines.  I’d much rather not put up with that threat.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I liked the books. I read them all to my daughter and they were quite nice. That inspired us to watch the TV show. The first season was good, the second, too. Then it slowly started to go bad. They were so fixated on having very young girls getting married, and after reading all the claims about nearly all the women and girls being molested by the actors, it just started to seem creepy. I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I read the books to my kids multiple times.  (Our kids were spaced somewhat apart.) 

    I saw a few episodes of the TV program, and for many years thereafter one of my standard lines was that if we’re going to have censorship in this country, the first thing we should ban is the Little House on the Prairie TV show. It took good literature and mutilated the story.

     

    • #18
  19. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Skyler (View Comment):
    So although those days were good for some important reasons, today is much better because one child died as an infant, and Mary Ingalls went blind as a teen because she lacked basic medicines. I’d much rather not put up with that threat.

    My wife does genealogy research as a hobby.  As part of that, we used to visit small and/or family cemeteries in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.  It was not unusual to see a headstone with the names of four or five children who died in infancy.

    • #19
  20. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    the first thing we should ban is the Little House on the Prairie TV show. It took good literature and mutilated the story.

    If that was the case, very few movies based on books would make it past the censors.

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    the first thing we should ban is the Little House on the Prairie TV show. It took good literature and mutilated the story.

    If that was the case, very few movies based on books would make it past the censors.

    Bonus!

    • #21
  22. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    We recently finished the Little House series and talked about this a lot.

    • #22
  23. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    Laura Gadbery: Yes, yes, I know Christmas is over.

    Christmas is twelve days long!  It ends on January 6, the Epiphany when the three magi reached Jesus in the manger.

    • #23
  24. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery
    @LauraGadbery

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I liked the books. I read them all to my daughter and they were quite nice. That inspired us to watch the TV show. The first season was good, the second, too. Then it slowly started to go bad. They were so fixated on having very young girls getting married, and after reading all the claims about nearly all the women and girls being molested by the actors, it just started to seem creepy. I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I never heard that about the actors! But they did get married young back then. 

    • #24
  25. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery
    @LauraGadbery

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    We recently finished the Little House series and talked about this a lot.

    We went through The Prairie Primer during our homeschool years. Even at those young ages my kids couldn’t get over how other people lived then vs. now. 

    • #25
  26. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery
    @LauraGadbery

    Mark Wilson (View Comment):

    Laura Gadbery: Yes, yes, I know Christmas is over.

    Christmas is twelve days long! It ends on January 6, the Epiphany when the three magi reached Jesus in the manger.

    Yes, yes, I did forget that. And I collect 12 Days of Christmas books! 

    • #26
  27. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Laura Gadbery (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I liked the books. I read them all to my daughter and they were quite nice. That inspired us to watch the TV show. The first season was good, the second, too. Then it slowly started to go bad. They were so fixated on having very young girls getting married, and after reading all the claims about nearly all the women and girls being molested by the actors, it just started to seem creepy. I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I never heard that about the actors! But they did get married young back then.

    Yes, “some” girls got married young, but certainly not all.  And the continued persistence on that topic in the TV show when it wasn’t such a big deal in the books, combined with the tell-all stories that have come out, really gives it a creepy vibe in the later seasons.

    • #27
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