Our Writers Corner

Are We Rich?
Sunday Pearson

My kids always asked me the hard questions.  Never once did I hear them ask their dad any tough questions; always me. “Where do babies come from?”  (Naturally I’d tell them the truth that the stork brought them wrapped in tiny pink blankets and gently placed them in a nest right outside my hospital window where I effortlessly waited for their arrival.)   “Hey Mom, do worms ever get the mumps?”  (Scientists have debated that for years, sweetheart, so when you grow up and become a famous biologist, perhaps you will be able to find the answer to that age old question, win the Nobel Prize and buy me a Mercedes.)  “Why do we have a belly button?”  (I had an answer, but it escapes me at the moment.)  So the question from my youngest daughter who one day asked, “Are we rich?” was just another in a series of questions I attempted to answer.

The comical reality to her innocent question was that when I grew up, I never had to ask my parents if we were rich.  It was pretty common knowledge throughout the universe that we were not.  Everything I wore either came from another human being who had broken it in for me or it came from the Sears catalogue; best known for its lawnmowers and tools.  The world had yet to experience the “softer side.” 

My mom purchased me one pair of shoes a year . . . always at the beginning of school . . . always white and always too large (so that my foot had room to grow).  To this day, I do not own a pair of white shoes.  Ordering from a catalogue meant that mom had to measure me.  By her own admission, she was lousy at math so the measurements were always off.  Everything I wore hung low and where it shouldn’t.  Sleeves were too long; the waist to my dresses sat on my hips and my coat invariably brushed the ground.  No matter, you get the picture.  We were by no stretch of the imagination well off.

To a child, volume is the measurement tool of wealth.  And so it was with my own children.  When they were small (and I was a stay-at-home mom) I shopped at the local thrift stores for most of their clothing.  Making my purchases there, allowed for great quantities.  It made little difference to them where the clothing came from, just so they had a lot! They never had one sweat suit but five; never just two sets of pajamas but eight.  And toys!  They had a ton!  Since volume equated to prosperity, they must have thought we were VERY rich!

As they grew up, volume slowly became less important.  We had evolved to brand names; Doc Martens; GAP; Abercrombie and Fitch, bebe, etc.  The question, “Are we rich?” was more complicated.  As we entered this stage of “poordom,” my days at the thrift store were numbered.  To further emphasize the fact that we were now embarrassingly poor, we drove a run down, l981 Volvo which the girls abhorred!  At their request, we often dropped them off one block from school so that they wouldn’t be seen coming out of the oxidized tank on wheels. 

The only thing that saved us during this phase of child rearing was the money tree that my husband planted in the back yard.  Thank goodness he had the foresight to do that!  I could often be heard tenderly directing our teenagers into the back yard where there was an abundance of money growing just within reach.  There’s no question that our girls believed we were VERY poor!

We somehow survived the “poor” years.  We enjoyed fishing and camping with other “poor” families who have become life-long friends.  We had plenty to eat (all of it from scratch).  We enjoyed the freedom to worship and the freedom of speech.  We had our health and we had one-another.  We have collectively discovered that Madison Avenue is wrong!  No amount of  “I can’t live without it” purchases or “Just Do It” philosophy will provide personal fulfillment or the necessary strength of character to make it in this world.  Family relationships nurtured by mutual respect and love, are by far a more valuable commodity to be cherished.  Truth is, Mr. Bill Gates has NOTHING on us!  We are rich, beyond our wildest imaginations!

Oh by the way, the answer  to why we have a belly button is, we have one because that’s where God poked us with a stick to make sure that we were done. 

Then He handed us over to the stork . . .                   







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Are We Rich? 


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