Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Had I a Spoon...

"Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
-Norman MacEwan

My mother's uncle grew up in a typically impoverished Irish household amid a large family of which he was the youngest. He wryly tells the story that one morning he was late for school and arrived much after his siblings. The teacher demanded to know the reason. As he stood in the schoolroom barefoot and indignant, he declared that everyone in the family had got an egg for breakfast that morning, a rare occurrence indeed.
It did not, however, answer the teacher's question adequately and she repeated her request.
"What does you eating an egg have to do with being late?"
My relative replied honestly and fervently, "well, had I a spoon, had I?"
It was the case that the family passed their single, solitary spoon from eldest to youngest until everybody was able to eat breakfast and go to school.

Sharing spoons, food, shoes was considered not a sacrifice but a way of life and the only thing to do. It feels oddly poignant and a little unusual that a time of such hardship could be considered with reverence and esteem but given that we modern souls have become reluctant to share a park bench, bus seat or friendly greeting with strangers, I would gladly take the manners and capacity to share, over a wealthy but indifferent society.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.