Good manners are still important today

Are you living contented? Think about it.

What fun it was growing up on the farm when I was a kid. We had everything anyone could ask for. Oh, we had no money, but we had plenty to eat and clothes to wear (even if most of them were hand-me-downs). We had a comfortable home with our own comfy beds.

Our house, as all houses in the country, were heated by a wood stove. We even cooked on a wood stove for many years. It was my privilege to get to fill the little bucket behind the wood stove with wood chips or dry cobs to start the fires each morning. I was convinced that it was a very important job that kept the home running smoothly.

Back then, we studied and read by coal oil lamps. It was a constant chore to keep the chimneys clean of soot, but that was my job since I was small then and had little hands. I though it was a special assignment. I loved doing it. Every evening when Mother lit the lamps and the lights came “on,” I felt real important and helpful. Needless to say, everyone, no matter how small, had a job to do back then to keep a home running. And we did it without pay; it was just our part of being a family.

My point in telling you all of this is that we were content with what we had. We were never allowed to whine about anything and our requests were simple. Kids didn’t want the moon for Christmas. In fact, we were tickled to get a simple doll or doll clothes and underwear and an orange, an apple and a little candy in our socks. We didn’t beg for stuff, but we didn’t even know it was available since we had no television and few catalogs.

The story is told of a teacher in New Jersey who at the beginning of school wore the same simple dress for 100 days. For her it was not about being weird, but to teach her students about the growing “culture of excess.” She was teaching them about being content not buying just to be buying something that may not be ethically sourced or manufactured and will likely end up trashed.

Her point was: Why do we think we have to wear a different thing every day? Why do we expect that of each other? She advocates what she calls “sustainable fashion,” wearing clothing made in eco-friendly ways, buying fewer but better-made clothing, wearing the same clothing more often and making sure they are eventually recycled when no longer needed or when they are replaced.

It seems to me that we put too much emphasis on what we wear. Isn’t it more important to be concerned with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience?

I have come a long way from what I had when I was a kid. Haven’t we all? I feel almost sorry for people who did not have the basic appreciation of life that I had. Many kids today were born into affluence, and do not know how to do without things they think they must have to get by. We lived years and years without television or electricity or trips to town to make purchases. We made do with what we had and had a wonderful life. I am content with my life.

We see people every day who live their entire lives in a state of discontentment. Regardless of how much they have or accomplish, they are never satisfied. Yes, we should all have goals and enjoy living, but it is equally important to be satisfied and content in our current state. They think more money will solve all their problems. It won’t. Some people throw more out the back door than the provider can bring in the front door.

Often, my wonderful readers comment on my articles. It is mostly from people who were reared in the same era I was. We have the same values and attitudes because we were all brought up that way. We were taught to appreciate what we had. We were taught manners. We were taught to share. We were taught a strict moral code. I am grateful, content and blessed. We appreciate life and what we have. We are thankful for friends who share and are genuine.

There is a vast difference in need and want. There are people who are really in need of food and warmth. But most people just want more. They are tempted by everything they see in the stores and tell themselves they must have whatever it is. They are never content.

However, there is not one among us who cannot take a lesson of hope and courage from the brave poor. Theirs is not a chosen task, but rarely do they complain. There is a no more inspiring sight than the honest toiler in the fields, the shop or the factory. His are simple wants, but they are genuine and they are satisfied. Let dire tragedy come into their lives, and the brave poor face it with acceptance and hope.

We could learn a lot about life and living by observing people who live simply. They are true friends and exude love. These are the lovely people who are willing to share the bounty of their gardens and orchards. We have friends who live in the most beautiful home that they built themselves surrounded by flowers of every variety and a garden that is a picture out of a magazine. Hazel and Bill share everything they have and seemingly live a wonderful life. We cannot drive out to their welcoming home, that they don’t load us down with produce from their weedless garden. They have supplied us with cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and whatever is available and/or ripening at each visit.

These easy pickles are made with some lovely cucumbers they recently shared.

Microwave Bread and Butter Pickles

4 cups cucumbers, sliced*

2 onions, sliced

1/2 rounded teaspoon salt

1/4 rounded teaspoon each, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed

1/2 cup vinegar (apple cider or white or a mixture of both)

3/4 cup sugar

*If cucumbers are store-bought, peel them to remove waxed surface. If they are home-grown, just wash them well and remove all stickers.

Mix salt, turmeric, celery seed, mustard seed, sugar, and vinegar. Pour over cucumbers/onions in a microwaveable bowl. Mix and microwave five minutes. Stir and microwave five more minutes. Cool and refrigerate. These are every bit as good as the kind that take forever. No need to can them. They are so good they won’t last that long.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle​. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.