The Stewart Family
By Suzanne Mazer Stewart
This time of year, you hear a lot about both the past and the future. The new year brings with it all the memories of the old
one, and at the same time, all the plans and dreams for the months ahead. Maybe it's January's snowy days, soft and silent,
or it's cold nights spent huddled close to our hearths. Whatever, it would see that a lot of folks spend the season in some
seriously deep thought.
I'm not immune to this phenomenon myself. I won't bore you with the trivial things that travel the pathways between my
ears. I won't even bother with most of the major ones, either. I would, however, like to let you in on something that struck
me as a little odd.
I found myself "taking stock," just like I do with our pantry before going grocery shopping. Looking at all that I had and
all that I wanted and all that I used to want or thought I needed. Oh, folks, let me tell you, that was an eye-opening
I used to think that I wouldn't be happy unless I had a fine house and a fancy car. Now, I'm not exactly content with the
condition of our old farmhouse, but I'm proud to call it home. I can't imagine living anywhere else, now. I'd love to have a
new vehicle, but my old Chevy gets me where I need to go and back again. Plus, it's paid for AND it holds everybody that
needs to go and come home again. That, believe me, is much more important than a shiny paint job and sporty wheels.
I also used to dream about changing the world. About writing or doing something so astounding that my name would live on
forever in the hearts and minds of my fellow man. (OK, I know, everybody has those dreams, right? Well, I actually thought
I could get it done!) Today, I realize that I am changing the world, one child at a time, four children a day. Parenthood
gives us the ability to shape the future as we shape our children into the people they will become. And I will live on
forever, if only in the memories of my children and future grandchildren. Who could ask for a greater impact on
I also looked at what I had in relation to my future plans; the ingredients for tomorrow's dinner, so to speak. I realized
that I may still yet write or do something extraordinary. I also concluded that if I never did, that would be OK, too. I'm
much more patient, much more at ease with who I am, where I am, than I used to be. I don't know when it happened.
Somewhere between yesterday and today, I imagine, I learned to be happy with what I had. I guess you could say I've
discovered that I'm content. That's a rather happy thing to be, in case you don't know. I don't have to be better than the
Jones'. I don't even have to be as good. I just have to have peace with myself. And that's all right by me.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that from the outside looking in, the pantry of my life may seem a little bare, a little
disappointing. But I know that from my viewpoint, it's not so much the amount, or the brand name. It's how you put them all
together. As for me, I'm cooking up some homemade happiness. It's the perfect dish for a cold night in January.