Gratitude is defined as a feeling or attitude in response of a benefit, either already received or about to receive.
I want to dive a bit deeper in that meaning. For me, this response is as much about hope and love in the face of a hardship, about unfettered generosity and a free spirit of charity: the emotion is generally raw and strong. We hold our chins high through the worst of times, counting and keeping close what we have already received. We become grateful when someone lends a well-timed hand, even a simple gesture of kindness, and expects nothing in return.
Most often, gratitude is the only thing we can afford to give in return, under such circumstances. For those on the receiving end, it's more than enough, and for those grateful souls, it can never be enough. But it's a start.
during the 'Local Items" challenge a while back, I introduced you to a couple experiencing boysenberries for the first time. I'd like to return you to Lily and Edgar, in Orange County California, 1932. Hoover is president and the Great Depression is three years strong.
I offer the following in response: The Magic in Mock Lemon Pie
Lily stared at the empty pantry for longer than she cared to, willing food of any variety to magically appear. Times were hard and Edgar’s newspapers were filled with predictions that America was going to see worse before things improved. She closed her eyes against the thoughts of going hungry, of accepting scraps, of compromising their principles for the sake of one night’s meal.
First, Oklahoma's soil dried up. Then the promise of work in California was rescinded after Edgar moved them to Orange County. Now, hope for a bright tomorrow shied away from her home. And above all that, rent was due.
She sniffed and opened her eyes. The pantry was still empty. “No matter,” she whispered to the space. “I don’t need your help.”
Her back straight, she closed the pantry door and returned to the flour board, humming Rock of Ages. She worked the last of the butter into the dough with her fingers, losing herself in the preparation of a pie crust. Edgar wouldn’t expect a pie tonight, but pie was just the thing to uplift a sagging spirit. She lined the pan with care and placed it in the oven to proof the crust before adding the filling, scraping every last bit from the bowl.
“Lil, I’m home,” Edgar’s steps were heavy and slow across the floorboards.
She summoned a smile before turning to kiss him. “I’m glad. I don’t much like it when you’re out after dark.”
Edgar sniffed at the air, the worried lines of his face relaxing. “Lemon pie? I haven’t done nothin’ to deserve a lemon pie.”
She raised an eyebrow, teasing him. “Well, it ain’t lemon, so don’t you fret none.”
He snapped his fingers. “Vinegar pie? Now I know you’re too good to be true.”
She laughed and pulled away from him, folding her arms. “Now, spill it E’gar. Where you been all this time?”
He sat down at the kitchen table. “You ‘member that Harris feller? Paxton’s ole super?”
“Can’t say that I do. D’ya need me to?” Lily could fake familiarity at a dinner party if it meant Edgar had a job.
“Might. I ran inta him at the buildin’ site an’ I offered ta help him load his truck.”
“Did he let ya?”
“Naw, he’d enough boys to get it done. But we got to talkin’ ‘bout Paxton.”
“You enjoy keepin’ me in suspense, you tease.” Lily accused him. “An’?”
“You get that cute wrinkle ‘bove your nose when I do.” A smile parted his lips. “Anyways, Paxton I guess went upta Shasta an’ has set up with the lumberjacks. An’ he’s lookin’ for men he can trust.”
Her heart sank. Felling trees was dangerous work. “We movin’ ta Shasta now?”
“Naw, but some of Harris’ boys are an’ Harris’ll need another grader. He says he should have sumpin’ fo’ me next month.”
“We got a job?” she squealed.
“Now,” he smacked his lips, “When’s that pie gonna be done?”