Winter is a time that stirs up memories for me. I often look back at my childhood with the new perspective of a grown-up who sometimes gets caught up in worldly, unimportant things.
Each time I think back to life as a child, I am reminded that you can have practically nothing, but still have everything in the world.
It was a cold winter morning. It had taken me a few minutes to work up enough courage to throw the mountain of covers off my gangly body and touch my bare feet to the chilly carpet.
The wood-burning stove was located on the opposite end of the house, which meant that the bedroom I shared with my five sisters was icebox cold every winter morning. Mother made sure we had plenty of blankets to keep us well-insulated during the night. And, because we had to sleep two-per-bed, we always had another person’s body heat to keep us warm.
We never had the courage to leave our cocoons of warmth until we could hear Dad in the living room, tossing slices of wood into the fire and crumpling up old pieces of newspaper to use as kindling. It was only when we heard these unmistakable sounds of warmth that we would courageously dart from our beds to the living room.
We had to make it past the freezing linoleum-floored kitchen first. That was daunting. But as soon as our feet hit the carpet of the hallway, we knew we were moments away from blissful, bone-warming heat.
As a child, I never thought about the steel-gripped cold my father had to face every morning in order to warm the house for the rest of us. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized he was showing us how much he loved us by carefully nursing that tiny fire to health day after day.
As our shivering bodies soaked up the heat that leaked from the smooth dark surface of the stove, we could almost feel tendrils of warmth weaving through our tangled hair and filling up the cold emptiness of the room.
We didn’t have much, but we hardly knew it. We had parents who loved us, we had laughter, and we had each other. In reality, we had it all.
All the while, the snow lay in silent, soft bundles outside our living room window and marveled at the simple joy radiating from that tiny home. (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor.)