Recently I was having a conversation with an acquaintance and she was telling me of a mega huge purchase that she is making in her life very soon. This is also a person who talks a lot about money and things and status. Three things that are Blah. Blah. And Blah to me. Money is important — yes — but I view it as a tool. Things, to me, are nothing that you can take with you (unless I am buried in my cowgirl boots!). And status just out-right annoys me because status in who’s opinion? And what if I don’t give 2 shits about that person’s opinion?
I know everyone has their own opinion on what is important to them and why. However, I simply can’t help but feel sorry for people who are caught up in money and status. What a tiring life that must be, always worrying about what the next greatest thing is, making sure you have enough room on your credit card to pay for that, and then caring if anyone cares or not. It is sad that certain things in life are viewed as more important than others.
This all made me think of one of my favorite Little House on the Prairie episodes. Yes, I used to watch every single episode and I even purchased the VHS box set when Time Life sold them on an infomercial in the early 90’s. There was nothing that Pa Ingalls couldn’t fix! The episode was titled, “The Richest Man in Walnut Grove.” The story goes like this: Charles Ingalls was a very poor farmer who could never seem to fully catch up financially in his life. He had a wife and three young daughters. He had a run of bad luck so he took on several jobs and his wife and daughters did odd jobs to make money for the family as well. Eventually it was time to plant the spring crops but he still did not have enough money for the seed. Charles ended up making an arrangement with the local seed dealer that he would front him the seed and Charles would pay him after the harvest, and with interest.
Things were finally starting to look up for Charles and his family. Then, all of a sudden, things took a turn for the worse when a natural disaster occurred that killed off all the crops. I honestly don’t recall if it was flooding or a drought, but I do think it was the later. Actually, I think it was a drought because I seem to recall him and the family doing all they could to water the crops but they simply couldn’t keep up. So after the devastating loss of the lost crops, Charles took off for town to have a conversation with the man who was quick to help him out originally. Charles was hopefully that the man would be understanding and allow him time to pay him back for the seed. The man had a different idea.
The new arrangement was that Charles had to clean and organize the massive seed building in an extremely tight deadline in exchange for paying off the seed. Charles, being a man of his word and up for any challenge, quickly accepted the new deal. He worked extremely long hours to even make a dent in the job he was to do. This went on for days and days. His wife, Caroline, begged him to take Sunday afternoon off and, after church, go on a family picnic. Charles was quick to oblige because he hadn’t seen his family in many days and he realized he needed to take a break. So after church the family finds a nice quiet spot in a meadow and sits down to eat their picnic lunch. After lunch the girls run off to play and fly a kite while Charles and Caroline lie back and talk and take it easy. Not too long after they hear the girls announce that the kite got stuck in the tree. Charles being the great “Pa” that he was climbed the tree to get it unstuck. Sure enough, he falls out of the tree and breaks his ribs.
The next day Charles goes back to the seed dealer to tell and show him what happened and asked for an extension until his ribs heal. The man would not give him an extension. He said that he had until the end of that day to finish the job. What was left of the job was to stack large and very heavy seed bags against a wall, probably about 10 feet high. So Charles being the hard working provider that he is held his ribs with one arm while with the other arm grabbed a bag from the ground, dragged it to the location, and then stacked them one on top of the other.
During this time the family was getting worried because they were at home waiting for him. They thought he was going to go to town and have a conversation with the seed dealer and come right back. However, once he learned that he had until night fall to get the job done, he couldn’t go home to tell his family because he would have lost too much time. Instead, he stayed in town and immediately began working. He was making very good progress despite his physical condition. However, the longer he worked, and the higher he had to climb to get the seed bags to the top, the more he became tired and weak. It was around that time that his daughters showed up to check on him. They arrived in time to witness their father struggling. They stood there for a very long time watching their father and hoping desperately that he would be ok. By this time, it also got the attention of some of the town folk and they began to stop what they were doing and watch what was taking place.
Eventually Charles’ fatigue got the better of him and he fell to the ground from the top of the seed corn stack. Of course that hurt him even more and his daughters frantically ran towards him. He was more worried about them being there than he was his own physical pain. It was then that the daughters decided they would finish the job for their father. You can imagine the sight that was because, two girls who were probably 8 and 10 years old, had to work well together to even move one single bag, but they were doing it. After this went on for about 10 minutes the circle of the towns folk who were watching this all unfold got bigger and bigger and they eventually walked over and took over the job to finish it for Charles and his two daughters. It was such a beautiful scene when the girls ran to their father and just hugged him while all three of them then simply watched all their friends work together to finish the job.
The closing shot and comment was something about one of the helpers saying to another that the seed dealer didn’t need to be so insensitive about the situation because he was one of the richest men in Walnut Grove. It was then that Nels Olsen, the town’s mercantile owner who was very wealthy himself, looked over at the scene with Charles, Mary and Laura and said, “No. That man right there is the richest man in Walnut Grove.”
Although I am certain I got some of the details wrong in the story retelling above, the gist of the story and the closing comments will forever stay with me. That was such a powerful lesson to me as a young girl watching these shows — and then re-watching them as a young women — to know that true wealth is in your family and in the love that you give and receive. If you possess a solid, loving relationship with another human being — let alone an entire family — you are rich beyond measure.
When I listen to people who are consumed with money and status, and spend outrageous money on things that they do not need, I say a little prayer that one day they can experience true wealth.
Here is to sincerely wishing all of you the biggest riches you could possible hold in your heart. Remember what matters most.
Love and Blessings,