Kathy Bohannon Column
Finding joy in lean times
by Kathy Bohannon, Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
Our kids are all grown up with children of their own and most of my days are spent happily in an empty nest. It’s a whole different life from where we were “back then.”
Back then we were working hard just to make ends meet. We had two kids, two jobs, a ton of extra curriculars and more. It was hectic and chaotic, and when I look back, all of those things are a blur.
We were lean on money and time, and being creative was my saving grace. I realize it more now when the kids share their favorite memories of growing up in that house in Moreland.
There were days on end the power would go out due to a blown transformer or, as I was once told, a squirrel that got into some very important mechanism. Not sure I ever believed that, but regardless, the power would be out for hours up to — as it was during an ice storm — nearly three weeks.
The downstairs had a huge great room to the left of the front door. During the cold months, a power outage meant mattresses would be moved from the bedrooms upstairs and placed on the floor in front of the fireplace. We would hang sheets or blankets from little cup hooks that we’d put in the front and back entry ceiling, trying to keep the heat in one area. It worked well, as the hallway and kitchen were freezing but our little great room / haven from the storm was comfy cozy.
With no power, we played board and card games with the kids. Though they were plenty old enough for another round of Risk, we’d go through our entire collection and even enjoy a few Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land.
We’d sing. We’d tell jokes. We’d color in coloring books. It was like time stood still from our busy lives and we were all in a huddle, waiting on something to interrupt us and sling us back into the chaos.
All too soon, the power would flicker and then come on full speed. It was bittersweet for Ninja Man and me. While we were happy the house would be warm and we wouldn’t have to haul wood to the fireplace, it was sad because those sweet moments would come to an end.
Still just making ends meet, we made many trips to Pensacola, where my in-laws had a summer home. It was a grand thing, a single wide mobile home about three miles from the beach. So grand in fact, that we never went anywhere else for years. Grand, not in appearance, but in function, and now, in memory. It was so sweet to have that little place for our family to go. All we needed was gas money; the rest would fall into place. We loved it.
During the summer I’d take the kids to the woods and we’d collect interesting rocks, twigs and leaves, place them in brown sacks we’d decorated and then have a picnic. Other times, we made fairy furniture out of sticks and hot glue and placed entire living room suites in little secret places in the woods while G. I. Joe and his buddies stood guard.
Other times the kids would pile up on the porch swing with me and I’d read books to them or tell them stories.
Funny how the kids never mention Six Flags or Disney or other places we went. It’s always the “camping” on the floor during power outages, trips to the woods, fairies, and the actual camping we did in tents. They tell us those were the best times. Hard as those days were for us, we agree.
When I look back at our lives then, I rejoice in the fact that the leanest times gave us the most joy. If I had it to do over, no matter what the budget, there would be more board games, more picnics and lots more stories on the porch.
We found joy in the lean times. What a blessing that is to me now.
Kathy Bohannon is a weekly contributor to The Newnan Times-Herald. Purchase her ebook “Dyson the Terrible Puppy” at BarnesandNoble.com. Kathy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org