We celebrated Thanksgiving early at the Gazette, with everyone contributing a favorite side dish to complement the ham and turkey last Thursday.
We divide break room duties monthly, by department, but when we have a big dinner, everyone does what they can to help with the clean-up. I helped our accounts receivable administrator, Deb, with the dishes.
I think I finally understand why I like to do dishes, although I didn't always. In fact as a teenager I vehemently and frequently objected to the chore. As a young wife I put off doing dishes as long as I could, until we actually ran out. That attitude persisted, even after the children arrived, until a friend gave me this sampler, (author unknown) for my kitchen wall:
Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We're eating very well.
With home, health and happiness,
I shouldn't want to fuss;
By the stack of evidence,
God's been very good to us.
I didn't get over my aversion immediately, but the premise of the poem stuck with me and I now have several reasons why I really do like to wash dishes.
For one thing, there's all that hot, soapy water. I like hot, soapy water, so given the option, I usually wash and rinse, leaving the drying and putting away to others. That sink full of hot, soapy water is the main reason Danny and I don't have an automatic dishwasher, nor do we have plans to acquire one. When the sink is full of hot, soapy water, it's easy to shine the countertops, kitchen table and stovetop while another batch of dishes soak in the sink. During the brief time that we did have an automatic dishwasher, the rest of the kitchen suffered terribly from a lack of attention.
Another reason I like washing dishes is the company at the sink. Dish washing, especially after a large holiday dinner, is a chore that is meant to be shared. And in the sharing relationships can bloom and grow. Warm, soapy water is apparently conducive to conversation.
After all, there are protocols to follow when sharing chores. Everyone has a favorite way to do certain things and there are family traditions to observe. Keeping that in mind, on Thursday, I asked Deb about her family tradition on the issue of foodstuff missed by the washer. Some families believe that missed specks of food become the responsibility of the dryer. Others return the still slightly soiled dish to the washer for another round of scrubbing. I've had a lot of experience washing dishes, so I wasn't planning to pass on any speckled dishes, but we had fun sharing family traditions and dish-washing foibles thanks to the question. (Her family's tradition, passed down by her grandmother, is to let the dryer flick off the miniscule food flecks.)
Speaking of protocol, the order in which the dishes are placed in the sink, washed, rinsed and stacked, is of paramount importance. Silverware, cups and glasses are first. Always. Plates are next. Then bowls. Then, if the hot, soapy water has held up, it's time for the dreaded pots and pans. (It is sometimes helpful and entirely acceptable to set these aside to soak in hot, soapy water before starting on the silverware, cups and glasses.)
Some people, if space permits, prefer to let dishes air dry. However, when space is at a premium or after large family dinners, dryers must be recruited. Even champion dish-stackers like my husband, Danny, have limits. Our daughter-in-law Nicole noticed Danny having trouble with his massive stack after our last family holiday dinner. She quickly stepped in, and they worked side-by-side until the job was done.
And that is my favorite thing about dish washing. You pull the plug, drain the water, run the garbage disposal, rinse the sink one last time, and viola' -- everything is shiny and clean. What once was filthy and unfit for use, is now pristine, ready for more. With extra hands to help, even the toaster shines. This job, when finished, is the epitome of satisfaction.
During the final moments of agony on the cross, his ministry and mission complete, Jesus proclaimed, "It is finished." Because of him, all men, filthy with sin and reeking of wickedness, can be forgiven, cleansed and restored. None who come to him, no matter how vile, will be turned away.
It is finished -- the redemption of man, victory over sin and death, life and that more abundant, all were accomplished on the cross.
And if that isn't something to be thankful for, then nothing is.
"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.
Audio link to KNGN 1360: