Our granddaughter Caroline is two years and three months old. She is the daughter of Andrew and Anne Rushing. Caroline enjoys playing with her kitchens at both grandmothers, “Bunny” Beth Dorris and “DahDah” Rushing. DahDah thought a good Christmas gift for Caroline would be a play kitchen for her own home.
Gay scanned the internet and made the purchase. Amazon delivered the kitchen kit in a box that weighed about 75 lbs. The name of the kid’s kitchen maker is KidKraft. A more accurate name would be AdultKraft.
My plan was to be proactive and not wait till the last minute to assemble the kitchen. Long gone, I thought were the all-nighters I use to pull on Christmas Eve when my children were small.
As I began to pull the pieces from the box, the static electricity caused some of the Styrofoam to cling to the parts while hundreds of the little dots fell on the floor. I knew this would have dire consequences for me because the house was clean and company ready.
Tucked away inside the box was the Instruction Book. It was 18 pages of picture illustrations - 44 pictures, 44 steps that if joined with the hundreds of right lettered screws would lead to the promised land of completion.
There was no text. No explanations, just pictures. The pictures make the kitchen universal. No profit was lost on translating instructions into other languages. Surely, dummies in all nations could follow the diagrams and succeed.
Page by page, by each numbered part and lettered screw I toiled. This kitchen had a play freezer, refrigerator, sink and faucet, microwave, oven, stove top, and washing machine that all fit together as one unit. Gradual progress was made as the hours passed. Frustration began to set in. Where had my day gone? I felt like I should have been finished hours ago.
My meltdown began. I lost patience and was on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum that would have embarrassed Caroline. I even got upset with Gay for making such a purchase that required all this work. Thankfully, she was a good sport and took pity on me. She came to my side. Together, we navigated the tough stretch when I was tempted to quit. My hope was renewed. We turned the corner. I could see the end in sight. Caroline’s kitchen was finished and now ready for play.
We have our gift exchange the day after Christmas with our children, their spouses, and the grandchildren. Everything was all ready when the phone call came that a spouse woke up that morning and could not taste or smell. Christmas festivities are on hold because of COVID-19 and quarantines.
Caroline’s Kitchen sits in its lonely place awaiting her bright eyes and smile to confirm our hours of labor were not in vain. Such is the way 2020 has gone for most of us. There has been plenty of disappointment, frustration, and postponements. Most involving the loss of loved ones; more important than a play kitchen. There will be some more frustration in 2021.
A wise verse came to mind, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalms 27:13-14).
Gay showed me some goodness and helped me gain the courage I needed to keep going and not quit. The desire, expectation (hope) of seeing the goodness of Caroline’s smile also strengthened my heart. Keep looking for goodness as long as you live, wait on the Lord, and you will find the courage you need to go forward.
Joe Rushing is a local minister and chaplain.