Of Grace and Stuff

3 08 2009

The people we have stayed with this summer are saints.

Adding five people to anyone’s household – especially when three of them are under the age of 8 – is inviting enough chaos to try anyone’s patience.  But even more amazing than the fact that five different homes welcomed us with open arms is how accommodating and helpful everyone has been.

Even at the brief stops, I have noticed how much bigger the space is when we’re gone.  Keeping five people’s clothes neatly folded and stacked (oh, and clean) has been one of my full-time jobs this summer, but no matter how organized I think I am, the clothes alone take up more space than they should.  Add to that my kids’ backpacks full of trinkets and treasures, a collection that also grows logarithmically, and our own adult collection of laptop and camera paraphernalia that snakes its way onto some previously pristine counter or tabletop.

But the real patience-tester for our hosts must be the cargo.  You see, living overseas means that we can’t just run to Target or Wal Mart when we think of something we need in October.  There are no bargains on clothes or shoes of decent quality where we have lived.  So when we do get to the US, we shop for an entire year.  We collect clothes in the kids’ upcoming sizes and for a variety of seasons.  We have our sons choose in July the themes they want for their January and April birthdays so we can pick up a few items to help tailor their celebrations.  We restock our medicine cabinet, gather books in English, and inevitably find some gadget that will help us in new and wonderful ways (this time:  Magic Jack).

I have a permanent mental list of distinctly American grocery items that I imagine I would have to force myself not to hoard if we moved back to the US.  Chocolate chips, icing in a tub, maple flavoring (yes, for making syrup), peanut butter, marshmallows, seasoning packets, Cheerios – all are things you think don’t matter much until you try raising three American children where these items don’t exist.  For a short time, we were perhaps the biggest importer of barbeque sauce in Romania.  I’m certain we were briefly the biggest importer of Oreo cookies and Cuban coffee.

So for instance, right now, my sister-in-law’s living room is clogged with bags and half-packed Rubbermaid Action Packers.  I’m thankful she also has a family room, since the two living room couches are covered.  The front door only opens about halfway because we have three suitcases plus the kids’ backpacks and a few loose bags stashed in that corner.  And the entranceway…well, please don’t look.

But my point is that no one we have stayed with has ever grumbled within our earshot about our colossal amount of stuff.  I think there is a special crown in heaven for such gracious hosts of traveling families as large as ours.  We are blessed to have such a marvelous network of friends and family.

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4 responses

3 08 2009
Marisa Masson

Great blog! I know every detail of what you expressed. I am now realizing how important certain items now seem. I am rationing chocolate chips and like I never have – I guess it is rather miserly. Well, it sounds like you are getting very close!
Love,
Marisa

3 08 2009
Becky

I undertand your sentiments in regards to staying places, packing for years at a time, and trying to get everything done you wanted to, but not neglecting people or family that need/want your attention. It’s such a challenge, but just part of our lives now. Pray your trip is good, with fun memories, and I really look forward to hearing from you guys and how your transition to Morocco goes. Miss you guys, can’t believe you won’t be right around the corner anymore!

4 08 2009
Grandma Dee

I miss all that cargo and clutter and confusion. And I miss twinkling eyes and squeals of joy and growls of anger – real and pretend. I love you all and it is hard sitting here only hundreds of miles away, knowing that tomorrow you will be thousands of miles away. Would you consider downsizing your cargo and clutter and confusion by leaving the chldren with me? You could visit them next summer. xoxoxoxoxo Grandma Dee

4 08 2009
Jerri Migala

Hi Tony & Chrissy,
Thanks for sharing your lives in detail with us. You all are such a great blessing, really wonderful every time we see you. We know you will be protected everywhere you go!
I remember when our friends from Poland and their 5 children stayed with us. Their special items were toco sauce and chips( I think they are really from the Mexican part of Poland), marshmellows are also very important too.
Love you guys, keep up posted!
Marlon & Jerri

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