I have always had a sweet tooth.
Oh, I can't eat an entire stack of restaurant pancakes anymore, my tummy can't take all that sugar, but I confess that I treat myself to something sweet on a daily basis.
Growing up, we only had candy in the house at Halloween and Easter. And at Christmas, because that's when Great-aunt Helen and Great-grandma Wilson would send a tin full of fudge, divinity and peanut brittle. Since they lived in Iowa, and we lived in Colorado, this was our only constant contact, and we started waiting for that package of deliciousness as soon as the last of the Thanksgiving pies were eaten. (That connection was severed after Great-grandma died, but the memories are almost as sweet.)
The lack of sweets in the house got me in trouble more than once and I can still show the scar on my knuckle, some 47-years-old now, that I got jumping off the kitchen counter when Mom, who apparently could see through walls, hollered, "Dawn Elizabeth, get your finger out of that sugar bowl!"
Mom loved to tell the story about the disappearing pan of fudge she had made one night after tucking all of us into bed. (For once, I wasn't the culprit in the story, which also makes it one of my favorites.) This story stars my younger brother, Dave, who was all of 2 at the time.
After pouring the hot fudge into a pan, Mom set it out on the kitchen table to cool before heading off to bed. The next morning, the fudge was gone, pan and all. A frantic search followed, with visions of fudge-smeared walls, bed sheets and toddler faces foremost in her mind. There wasn't so much as a trace of the delicious, creamy chocolate anywhere. She had begun to wonder if she had imagined making the fudge in the first place when she discovered the untouched pan neatly tucked away underneath Dave's bed. He hadn't dipped so much as a single pudgy finger into the delectable brown goo, apparently saving it for a rainy day.
Maybe that's when Mom, who had a sweet tooth of her own, took to hiding the sweet stuff high and out-of-sight, leading to my own downfall years later, reaching into the sugar bowl, high and out-of-sight, but not unreachable to a determined 9-year-old.
More, more, more. As children, even with a tummy ache, we still want more candy, more cookies, more cake. The wise mother is the one who learns early to say "no."
(Of course, she is only truly wise if, occasionally, she remembers to say "yes.")
I spent the entire week of my vacation saying "yes" as often as I could. Our Colorado girls, Haili, 11, and Maddy, 9, were here again, the third summer in a row that we've been blessed with a preview of heaven, complete with nearly unlimited time, adequate resources and the grandparents' prerogative to absolutely spoil their children's children. (It's a symbiotic relationship, they spoil us right back.) For one full week, we entered an idyllic season where nothing mattered except the people right there, in our midst.
And the little corner of the world that we call home, the place everyone else calls McCook, Nebraska, conspired to sweeten that season. Everywhere we went, we met kind, generous and considerate people. Checkers at the local stores, librarians, store owners and strangers encountered along the walking trail or at Barnett Park, greeted us with smiles and warm hellos. (Kudos to the city for the walking trail. It was a delight. We walked it three times. The only black mark goes to the litterbugs that frequent Barnett Park. We walked the perimeter of the middle pond and collected at least three grocery store bags of trash as we went. Danny and I started packing out "found" trash years ago and it's a hard habit to break. This is one habit I hope the girls "pick up.")
We solved the problem of what to do when and what to eat for supper with drawings. We wrote down the available menu selections through the week, drew one in the morning (when we remembered), so there were no arguments and no dinner-time frowns. We wrote down morning activities and afternoon activities, and drew them as needed.
If I ever actually plan another party, I'm hiring Haili and Maddy as party planners. Our annual "girls only" party was a hit, simply because they took over the plans. Haili worked on the decorations for days in advance, seated at my desk behind the sofa, quietly drawing and planning every detail. We scoured the sale aisles and came home with games and activities, chocolates and beverages and ended the night outside, fireflies illuminating the fun. They were even willing to tear down the "no boys allowed" sign if Grandpa wanted to join in.
More, more more. More times like these when every moment becomes a memory, every story the best we've ever told, or the best we've ever heard, and every kiss as pure as a gentle rain. Wise is the father who knows when to say "no" and truly wise is our Father in heaven when he says "yes!"
The girls are home now, waiting for their next summer adventure. We're home again as well, in our treasured routine of getting up in time to wake the chickens, and bedding down as soon as BooBoo Kitty is in for the night.
But all four of us, for as long as forever lasts, will remember the Summer of 2012, the sunburns, the paramedics at Schmick's Market (no worries, everyone is fine), and sand-painting at our party.
"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:6 (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.