My mother and father lived in that kind of a house when I was a small child. I doubt that it got down to six degrees in south Georgia, but it did get cold and the winter wind found its way through the walls, around windows, and under doors. Fortunately our new house built the next year was tight and adequately heated.
I appreciate my parents who struggled to make sure their children had a better life. They managed to survive the Great Depression, World War II, and still enjoy life. When I hear people today whine and cry about how bad this world is, I have to smile. Everything is relative, isn't it?
It seems to me that no one has enough. The wealthiest want more and more material things. They don't enjoy what they have because they live in fear that they will lose it. The poorest don't have enough to eat or a place to sleep. They want more, and would love having what the wealthy man owns. What he has would be enough, the poor man thinks. But if he had what the wealthy man has, would that be enough? Do we ever have enough? Can we be satisfied with what we have? Can we enjoy today and not be scared of what tomorrow will bring?
I am satisfied with what I have, and I am grateful for all I have. When the icy wind is blowing outside, and I am warm and comfortable with hot chocolate on the stove, gratitude for what I have sweeps over me like a soft breeze. I know there are homeless people who have no shelter from the cold. I know some live in cars or sleep in boxes on the street. I know children who ate from dumpsters because the family had no money to buy food.
I don't need more than compassionate and caring family, good friends, and my health to realize what is really important in life. In the past few days concerned friends called to make sure I have all I need to be safe and warm. My sister called to check on me. I could tell she was worried about me being alone after she saw frightening weather alerts on TV.
Soon I will go on vacation in Florida where some wonderful friends give me the use of a condo. But that is not all. One of them will fly north at her expense to meet me and drive me down to the condo. She will likely drive me back as she did last year.
That kind of friendship is what is really important. Having people in my life who care about me -- people I love -- that is what matters.
Recently I asked on my Facebook page: Do we learn more from joy or from pain? As for myself, I think I have learned in the past five years, through all the pain of loss, what I really need in life and what I must have to live a happy life. I don't believe we have to have the biggest house, the finest of furnishings, the nicest car, the most fashionable clothes or find celebrity and fame. I think what we must have to be happy is love, people who sincerely care about us, a safe place to call home, respect for ourselves and anticipation for our future endeavors. Doing for others also rates extremely high on the happiness chart.
As a writer, I have one more thing that makes me happy -- the ability to express my thoughts, the opportunity to communicate with others. It is a need that must be met every day, in some way, large or small. So I post on my blogs, scribble in my journals, and fill long pages of yellow legal pads with various and sundry words that eventually are transcribed to files in my computer. At times those words find their way to a publication that reaches more people. That also makes me happy.
What makes you happy?