Little House Lessons: Contentment

I Love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I love them because Laura’s recollection of her childhood, which is described in such vivid detail that it’s astonishing, is incredibly warm and loving.  It reminds me of every thing a child’s life should be: happy, contented, safe and filled with love and laughter; and this, in spite of the “hard life” her family lived.

Yet, that’s just what puzzles me.

I think that the circumstances of her childhood were such that I would not want it for my children, but I wonder if she felt that way – that her childhood was hard and at times unbearable?  If she did, it certainly didn’t come across in her writings.

On the contraire, her childhood accounts engender feelings of warmth, love, hope, security, and a general feeling that all was right in the world, especially when her dad, Pa Ingalls was around.

In her book Little House on the Prairie, this is how Laura recounts a move her family made from the woods of Wisconsin to the open prairie of Kansas . . .

“…Pa sold the little house.  He sold the cow and calf.  He made hickory bows and fastened them upright to the wagon box.  Ma helped him stretch white canvas over them. Everything from the little house was in the wagon, except the beds and tables and chairs.  They did not need to take these, because Pa and could always make new ones.”

Could you imagine the contents of your life being able to fit inside of a covered wagon? 

That wagon couldn’t be any bigger than the size of a pretty small bedroom.  Obviously, Laura’s family had very little earthly possessions.  Yet it seems like what they did have was more than enough for a child to live a good and contented life.

“The best thing you can spend on your child is time.”  – Unknown

What about us?  How much do we need?

I have to remind myself of Laura’s humble circumstances whenever my kids ask for material things that I can’t deliver on, especially since we are living on one income.  I have to remind myself of that when I feel that we need more to be happy.

Why do we need so much, anyway?

“Then he [Jesus] said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

The more I read the Little House books, the more I’m reminded that what children need most doesn’t come from anything that I can purchase at all.  It comes from the love and discipline received and the values and principals instilled.  It comes from parents who persevere in marriage and don’t quit on family when the going gets tough.

Oh, how I love Little House!

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (I Timothy 6:6-8)

(Next in this series: Little House Lessons: Appreciation.)

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