To tell this story, I need to share some background information.
First of all, last Monday the Fella took the day off from work to build me a fire pit.
A fire pit!
I’ve been thinking about one for quite a while now, and I finally decided to drop that as my official hint as to what I wanted for my birthday. (Subtle ones, you know, like sending him how-to-build-your-own-fire-pit youtube videos and website links and coming right out and telling Aub and the littles, “I want a fire pit for my birthday.” Very subtle, and yet it somehow worked.)
He went and got the supplies from the getting place, and they even had a kit to make it a little easier. When he got home he had all kinds of help in the form of the zoo crew. They dug, plotted, placed, and poured.
And we had us a fire pit.
Only we had no firewood or roasting sticks, so we decided to hold off until we got those things.
It’s been a fun week of imagining what it would be like. Our Princess wants her big sister to bring home her guitar and for us all to sing songs around the fire. She’s the idyllic one.
We made to another trip to the getting place to finish our list, and then–today was the big day. The First Ever Wienie Roast at Buckingham Bottom.
I don’t know who was more excited, me or the littles.
Or their neighborfriends.
We had a yard full by 9:30 this morning and they were still playing strong when the Fella went out to start the fire an hour later. Of course our Princess excitedly told them what we had going on. About 11:15 she came to the porch door and called me over. “Chloe has something to tell you.”
I walked over. “Yes ma’am?”
This little eight year old peered in through the door and said, “Well since I haven’t had lunch yet, can we–well, I can’t speak for the rest of my friends, they might have had lunch, but could we roast hot dogs too?”
A simple Sunday was all I was after, y’all. Lunch with the family, wrap up laundry necessities for the week, and then a nap. Yep, that was all I was hoping for.
As though lit up in lights, my “words” for the past couple of years came to mind–interruptible, intentional, open, with. How could I turn away someone who was hungry? Or at least fascinated by the idea of cooking hot dogs over a fire? I once told someone who asked “what I was” that “well, I love Jesus and how he led his life”…..not trying to be cliche’, but I knew what Jesus would do. And I was sorely ashamed.
I told Chloe I needed to wrap up what I was working on, and while I was thinking about it, what would her Mama think?
“Oh, I have a walkie-talkie, and I can just call and ask her.”
Brilliant. Do that.
After making sure the Fella was okay with us adding to the guest list, I told our Princess to have all her friends run home and ask their parents.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to invite them or that we didn’t have enough food, I think it was that I didn’t want to be responsible for other people’s children around a fire, handling hot roasting sticks, or for feeding other folks’ children. (Food allergies can really make you paranoid, for your child and for others.)
But once we committed to it, I felt at peace.
Which is what You were aiming for up there, huh?
I cut up apples (I cannot feed other people’s children just hot dogs, save that lack of nutritional balance for my own crew) and put everything we needed on a tray. When I walked out they were so excited; they were all sitting by the fire on logs from our old tree, empty roasting sticks already in their hands.
They were too sweet. No one except mine had actually roasted hot dogs much if at all. Chloe said she didn’t even like hot dogs until today.
Well there you go.
There’s something magical about a fire, isn’t there? The flavor it adds to food, yes. But the camaraderie of sitting around it and talking and cooking over the flames, watching the smoke chase the “pretty ones,” and mouths watering in anticipation–it takes us back to our roots, doesn’t it? Cooking outdoors, over a fire. Yep. Magical.
And I could see it in their eyes. Everyone wanted to keep roasting, they each ate two hot dogs, with the exception of Chloe (but she did enjoy the one!)–only the second one was with no bun. I know that they would have kept roasting many, many more if we hadn’t made the rule “You roast it, you eat it.” I’ve felt the same way over many years of wienie roasts. The roasting is the best part, but you can only eat so much. The struggle is real.
When we moved on to the marshmallows, I was faced with giving them a number, their limit of the max they could roast and eat. We came up with four, and I honestly have no idea why. It just seemed like a nice round, even number. I didn’t want anyone to get too hyped up or go home sick from all that sugar. So four was it.
And again Chloe was brave and tried one. One. She doesn’t like marshmallows, but she found out she does love roasted marshmallows. Awesome.
Listening to them as they sat on the logs they’ve rolled around the yard for months now, realizing that I almost missed out on this fun and fellowship, I knew some church was going on around that fire–and not a word of sermon preached.
Of course there was some smack talk going on about who could cook the best hot dog ever, and I might have been the one to start it. I finished it too. After all had their fill, I sat down by the fire that was, by this time, dying out. I found a sweet spot over white ashes and sat and sat and waited and waited. Yeah, the roasting is definitely my favorite part.
And after a long time of sitting and waiting, I had the perfect hot dog. Maybe that’s what folks who love to fish feel. All that sitting and waiting coming to fruition…..
By this time the children were all running around the yard playing “Mother, May I?” and “Hide and Seek” with occasional breaks to build their “earth” in the sand/water box. I called them over to see my perfect hot dog. One wrinkled up her nose in distaste and said, “That’s burnt,” but her brother looked at me incredulously, “We could cook them that much?” I nodded. “Okay then, next time, I’m going to cook mine that long and I’m going to win.”
In the end we decided by a show of hands that everyone had fun and everyone loved the food, so we all were wieners–I mean, winners.
Yeah, I like that.
This afternoon I saw this quoted by Advent Conspiracy. And my heart breathed a sigh and said, “Yes.” And I knew what this is saying, because I lived it today. I got to reclaim my own real life today. And oh, was it a glorious one!
Tonight I give thanks for a family tradition started by my Granny years ago and continued on by my Aunt and all of our family still. There truly is nothing else like it. I am grateful for my family and their gift of time and energy in making my dream a reality. Most of all, I’m thankful for a little girl’s question that turned my day on its end, and for an unplanned journey that wound up being the best one after all.
Who can you be interruptible for and be with? What can you be open to and intentional about? It just might make your day. Go reclaim your own real life.
Love to all.