When I was young I looked at things so differently. Like any child I loved new dresses especially when my mom bought my sister and I matching ones. I loved a good homemade chocolate chip cookie and trips to the big city either Chicago or St Louis. I had a good childhood. I grew up in small towns and even though my parents were divorced before I could even remember they were married their new spouses accepted me as their own. I was always surrounded by people who cared about me and from what I know now that means I am pretty blessed.
Now that I live in Chicago I have become accustom to the way the big city works. I like the convenience of entertainment, shopping and culture only miles away from my house. I wouldn’t change where I am right now for anything. What I do know is when I have the opportunity to return home to the place I came from I see things I never saw before.
There is something about wide open fields of corn and beans with towering wind mills in the horizon. Long roads that are labeled with east 2500 north and small towns that include a Caseys General Store. (which happens to have the BEST pizza ever)
Yesterday we dressed our kids and jumped into the car after a soccer practice and a late night swim party to travel down state to my Aunt and Uncles farm for a family reunion. I would like to say we attend every year but we don’t. Life gets busy and it is easy to cross family reunion off the list. Not this year. Although we were an hour and a half late we made it. I knew it was going to be good as I walked up to the garage and saw tables filled with cousins, aunts and uncles. We had many of these potluck dinners as I was growing up, right there in that garage but I never noticed how amazing they were. A whole buffet of food that was hand made with love. Igloo coolers filled with ice cold iced tea, lemon aid and water. Things we rarely see anymore.
I probably said it 14 times yesterday how good it felt to eat all this amazing food in one place. It just doesn’t happen anymore. Rarely do I take the time to make mac and cheese from scratch when it is so much easier to call Portillos and order out. The dessert table didn’t stop. Filled with cookies and cakes that just felt like home.
It was fun to watch my kids run around with no shoes or shirts playing with their cousins and really taking in the wide open spaces of the farm. They could have stayed for a month. There is something about the feeling of freedom you have when on a farm filled with motorized tractors and sandboxes larger then are parks. Who wouldn’t want to stay.
Then the tour of farm buildings filled with animals, tractors and antiques collected over the years. It was good. My sons had lots of questions. They could not even understand how one person could use that many pieces of machinery. It was fascinating and something I took for granted as a child.
As we were driving home my husband was in complete amazement at the thought of being a farmer. Much like I am at the thought of climbing stories into the skies building sky scrapers with iron as his father and uncles did.
I know one thing I have new respect for where I came from. There is a whole lot to be thankful for. The opportunity to grow up with potlucks and to live in towns where I pretty much knew everyone gave me the foundation to leave, to melt into my new environment. But to return just fills my cup. I am reminded at how lucky I am to be surrounded by family that is always there to welcome us in. All we have to do is stop by. Pretty blessed we are.