Life Lessons from Laura’s Long Winter

Dear God , please help this snowstorm to stop. I need to get back to school because I really need to get smarter. In Jesus Name AMEN.

This was my daughter’s prayer one night followed by: So what’s tomorrow mom? She looks at me with eyes eager for a wish granted answer. Except, there is none. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It could be Yes ! It’s back to school for five days and then a weekend, normal life.  It could be more of the same stay home and think of new and exciting things to do in our little cabin life.

January has just finished and we can already say,  “Winter has been long and hard.!” It’s already overstayed.  This winter is providing a certain kind of long, longer, and more long.  So, here in the midst of winter,  there is ample time  for stretching, working,  and fixing. All to show real growth come spring.

In second grade, I read The Long Winter.  I am now rereading it.  At 7, it  kept me entertained and mesmerized.  My recent reread did that and more.  Lessons of that winter are seemingly more relevant and alive now .  Lessons that made Laura bloom in the spring.

Keep your Chin up: When the first Blizzard of October hit, the Ingalls family lived in a shanty. Laura wrote that the stove had a roaring fire that did nothing to warm the air.  Hovering around the stove with thick blankets, Pa grabs his fiddle. There was singing to drown out the storm and marching that warmed them down to their toes.

Chin up. Be happy at even five minutes of sunshine or a break in the snowfall. Chin up. Tell a joke or find one. ( a clean one mind you)  Sing, exercise, light a candle. The Ingalls family did and it worked like a charm.

Necessity is the mother of invention:  Pa calls her a wonder.  With no kerosene left, their lantern was useless.  But there was axel grease. Ma makes a button lamp.  They needed light. Ma makes a lamp and  puts me to shame.  Kid Cabin Fever and boredom  might quicken me to log onto Pintrest.  Where’s my button lamp gumption to whirl up wonder?

My husband’s parents lost power over Christmas. They didn’t move to the nearest hotel. They fed their Ben Franklin Stove in the basement. The closed off portions of their house and lived in the warm parts. They boiled water. They wrapped a hot brick up and laid it at the foot of their sleeping bag. One of these days, I am going to be pushed to muster up some wisdom out of deep necessity.  I’ll have to reread on how to make a button lamp just in case.

Appreciate the enough that you have : Before the first big storm hit and made a  White Christmas a sure thing, our family went to the grocery store. So did everyone else. There were no carts. People waited a good 20 minutes for them to return. Shelves presumably stocked full of the basics of milk, bread, and eggs, (  cheese, popcorn- those are necessities too right?)  were nearly empty. We crossed only a little over half off our list.  No vanilla to make chocolate chip cookies. No balsamic vinegar for my salad. Whatever would we do?

When the first blizzard hit the Ingalls Family had potatoes, tea, bread, beans, and bits of salt pork. Ma didn’t serve up Beef Wellington for dinner. But they gave thanks EVERY time-even when they were near starving.

Be a help for goodness sake:  Almanzo Wilder, the “manly” guy that Laura marries,was about 17 or 18.  For the Long Winter, he is all about making pancakes, saving seed to plant, and hanging out with his bro. I didn’t remember he was in the story truth be told. But Oh Man was he! He proved himself manly by going after some wheat in the thick of the storm to save the town from starving.

I read about several stories of people who lent a hand to strangers caught in the winter traffic dreadlock in Atlanta. I’m sorry Northerners, but it puts us to shame. Maybe it’s a  Southern Hospitality thing. But to open your doors to strangers because they are stranded? Not sure I’ve seen that this winter.  ( except maybe if you are a policeman or a tow truck) We have at least a month and a half left of winter, better be on the lookout for an SOS.

Have hope through the long: Weeks ago, we had a thaw. We were all outside. My daughter says ” “Listen everyone! Do you hear it?  The birds are singing. Winter is turning into spring!” Fat chance that is happening any time soon. But she still listens for the birds, smells the air, and looks for the sun.

” It can’t beat us! Pa said. It can’t lick us. It’s got to quit sometime. We won’t give up. ” (from The Long Winter)

Then Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up. ” ( from The Long Winter)

For as long as you have been alive, you’ve seen winter turn to spring. It never fails. Remember the spring, in all it’s splendor. It will be greener, more fragrant, and as  colorful than ever after a long winter. It’s a joy to picture now and it is a joy that can last longer – than the longest of winters.

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