In all the Facebook posts about gratitude, have you ever seen someone express thankfulness for toilet paper?
Well, think about it. Where would we be today without cushiony, perforated tissue (disregarding arguments about which way it should be placed on the holder)?
Anyone who has ever traveled to a developing country and had to rough it outside the confines of a luxury hotel can tell you what a precious commodity Charmin is. In Brazil, way back when as I learned to rough it as a Peace Corps volunteer, toilet paper came only in the consistency of ugly crepe paper. Once used, it could not be put down the toilet for fear it would clog up the works, so it was confined to a wastebasket, providing a constant room un-freshener. (Sorry, was that too much information?)
Ask your grandparents or parents their opinion of the evolution of bathroom dry goods. For them, toilet tissue may loom large in the comforts of life. It represents a move away from cold, smelly outhouses and Sears and Roebuck catalog pages; or worse, shelled corn cobs.
Now to the object of this discussion: This week, as you gather with family members and stuff yourselves into oblivion so you can watch the football games with eyes glazed over from satiety, ditch the usual drama and talk to your elders. If you can’t record their anecdotes with a digital recorder of some kind, make mental or physical notes about their wisdom. What are they grateful for? They probably have not expressed their gratitude on Facebook so how else will you know what they deem their life’s blessings?
For an ex-mother-in-law, I’ll bet that sliced, store bread would rank right up there with her first automatic washer. For her, it represented the ultimate luxury and freedom for her own mother from the daily grind of getting hands to elbows dirty with flour. It might have even been a badge of privilege to open a school lunch box to reveal: Viola! A sandwich made with store-bought bread instead of that coarse homemade stuff…. plus a scorer of brownie points with less fortunate classmates.
Our ancestors and elder family members probably found God’s blessings in similar mundane details of daily life . . . things that we have been taking for granted for decades. How will we know what those blessings amounted to unless we ask? How will their voices sing to us from the grave unless they are recorded in some way?
It’s time to draw up a new set of resolutions, well ahead of the New Year. Resolve to talk to your elder relatives, listen to their stories and record them in some way. Find out what they appreciate about toilet tissue. Soon you will be looking at this commodity with more gratefulness, through the eyes of those who saw its advent with much thanksgiving.