Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your Station in life

A number of years back (actually, it was when I was expecting Miss Calamity), some friends came to us and asked Sir Knight to consider hiring a woman who lived with them that originally hailed from Honduras.  She (along with her three year old daughter) was displaced due to Hurricane Mitch and, through various circumstances, ended up at our friend's front door.  They had taken her and her child in, provided them with food and shelter and where helping them through the mire of emigrating to a new country, but they really needed a break.  They were requesting that we hire her a day or two a week to perform general housekeeping duties.

I rebelled!  I didn't want a housekeeper.  I was in charge of my household, thank you very much, and I didn't want anyone else invading my space.  Besides, only useless, wealthy people had housekeepers, not homesteaders with a limited budget!

Sir Knight and I discussed the situation at length.  The reasons for hiring this young woman were many.  It would provide our dear friends with two evenings a week that they could have dinner as a family without guests.  It would provide them with two days a week that they were free to take care of family business without interruption.  But most importantly, if would give them a break.

Sir Knight thought it would be a wonderful opportunity, not only to give our friends respite, but also to lessen the workload for his very pregnant wife.  Still, I had a hard time with the concept.  I had a hard time, that is, until I thought of my Great-Grandmother.

My Great-Grandmother was a lady of station (my Great-Grandfather was an accountant) in Seattle during the Great Depression.  They employed help (for kitchen duties, along with sometimes being a Nurse for my Grandpa and my Great-Aunt).  The Great Depression brought reduced circumstances, even to my financially comfortable Great-Grandparents.  The logical solution to their economic distress would have been to let their help go, but that is not what my grandparent did.  You see, they believed that their station in life dictate that they help those in greater need than themselves.  Rather than let their household help go, my Great-Grandmother, along with her little boy (my grandpa) scoured the hills and vales in the Capital Hill section of  Seattle picking the plentiful blackberries that grow there with wild abandon.  Pails in hand, they dirtied their hands with berry juice and blood, with the intent purpose of providing for their hired help.  My Grandmother would take the berries home, wash and pick through them, package them attractively in pails, put her best gloves on and take the berries to the local bakeries. These bakeries would buy the berries for their pies, and my Great-Grandmother would use the money she earned, to pay her hired help.  It was her duty.  It was her station.

As I thought about hiring this young lady from Honduras, I realized that it was my duty.  It was my station that dictated that I help provide for someone less fortunate.  It was the right decision.  Mary, as our housemaid was called, was a wonder.  She was sweet lady, with a great desire to please.  She was eager to learn all she could about life in America and was a willing student of our culture.  Amazingly, she saved every cent that we paid her (which wasn't much, believe me!) and sent it home to her mother and father.  She sent the money with specific instructions.  Her father was to build a house with a CEMENT floor (only the very wealthy had a cement floor) and buy chickens.  Not for eating, mind you, but for egg production.  She wanted her parents to have a viable business, that would see them through the hard times, and she wanted them to have hygienic living conditions. And all of that, she provided with a few dollars from us!  Isn't that amazing?

As Christians or preppers or Shoestring Survivalists or whatever you want to call us, we have a station in life. We have a duty.  Charity is non-optional.  We must plan and prepare for those less fortunate than ourselves.  We don't get to say "I told you so" or "you got what you had coming".  Because our eyes have been opened, we get to rise to the occasion.  We may have to get our hands dirty.  We may have to go without or work extra hard to provide for those of reduced circumstances, but, as human beings, it is our station in life.  When the financial collapse comes, it will be us, not the government that must stand in the gap.  It will be our chance.  It will be our duty.  It will be our station.


  1. I love your morality tales. They remind me of the stories my mother used to tell me. (Not that you are the age of my mother, but that you are wise the way she was.) They are so on-point and clearly stated.

    The charity aspect of prepping is one that concerns me. Although I have set aside extra gear and food for my family, neighbors, and friends, I don't know what I will do with strangers who may knock at my door. What I have tentatively decided (can't truly decide until the balloon goes up, right?!) to do is exactly as my parents did during the Great Depression. I will provide what I can those who are willing to contribute labor - so long as they are able to work. Those who are unable to work will be exempt from the work rule. Those who can work and won't will be given a can of beans and asked to move along. I don't intend to feed rats.

    The welfare/entitlement mentality in this country has done nothing to help people learn to work, so I am concerned about the golden horde.

    NoCal Gal

  2. my mother grew up during the depression years. she says that she cannot remember anyone being really unhappy or discontented...everyone was in the same boat. she said that there were those who did have a little bit more and it was those folks who kept an eye out for the child who needed shoes, or extra milk, etc,,, but she also told me that in every experience of life there are bad people too.

  3. Oh wow. This was much needed and as usual right on.

    Thank you for blogging.

  4. In medieval Europe, under the feudal system of government, the landholders, business owners and nobility had the Obligation to provide safety, sustenance, and know-how information to those of lower station than them. This is, more or less, the definition of true feudalism. The serfs grow food, the landholder provides security.
    The French phrase Nobless Oblige means the obligation of the nobility. Yes, it frequently got turned around to mean the wrong things to many people, pulling feudalism into something we have no respect for these days, but the intent was good in the beginning. Those "with" due to knowledge, goods or power, are morally obligated to those "without".

    This does not always mean "Charity" or "welfare" as we know it today. Offering the self-respect of honest labor is always the better option.

  5. What I want to know is, where do you get this great artwork???? I love it!

  6. Jennifer;

    Isn't the artwork beautiful!?! I just Google something simple, for example, "berry picking picture". A link will come up with a lot of pictures. I click on that link and then change my parameter to "berry picking painting", then it pops up with pages and pages of paintings. If you type a search for paintings originally, you will get art studios versus pages of paintings. That's all I do! Sometimes it takes a number of different trys to get the painting that I am looking for, but I love artwork, so looking is always a pleasure (be careful though - some of the paintings are rather riske!)


  7. Helping others, as in your example, is how communities will flourish after it all hits the fan. In the case of hiring a housekeeper, what is the return on investment of YOUR time? Is your time best served by sweeping and cleaning, or using that time to tune up your generator? In effect, you are paying the cost of sweeping and cleaning to get your generator serviced. That's pretty cheap!

    How about if you have the opportunity to work with a craftsman to learn a new skill? That cleaning cost then becomes priceless. How you use that time determines if it's an extravagance or wringing the maximum value out of those dollars.

  8. What a wonderful post. Yes, you are right on. Even in times of lean or plenty we are to have the attitude of your grandparents with those in need.

    My husbands family had household help (this was in the 60's 70's and a little bit of the 80's) and they kept up with them and sent them Christmas gifts and little things here and there long after they quit working for them. (The maids would retire.) They would call his mom and dad a few times a year right up until the year they both passed away (his parents). They are gone also now. But the attitude and example was a wonderful testimony to them.

    Thank you for this post.

  9. Enola,

    What a wonderful post! I loved the story of your great-grandparents, and your story of your housemaid, Mary.

    I agree with NoCal Gal. You really do a lovely job of weaving morality lessons into your stories.

    Thank you for another thought-provoking post!

    Mara :)