Do you take your culture for granted?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It can be easy to forget what you have until you don’t have it anymore. Sometimes I still think like a Californian, because to tell you the truth, this time of year comes around and I’m expecting the first almond blossoms to be appearing on the trees, forgetting that we’ve still got at least three and a half months of total winter left here in Vermont. 

Whenever we spend time in Texas, I’m reminded of the Bible-belt culture, as well as the small things in life that really make a difference, the things that are easy to forget about when you’re surrounded by them day in and day out.

It all came flooding back today when I was in our local Maplefields gas station. Walking towards the door, I started to reach for it, when this handsome guy came up from the outside and swung it open for me. He held it wide and smiled at me, and I walked through gratefully.  “Thank-you, sir,” I said, returning the smile, and usually, that’s where the story would end. Only it didn’t – because this guy responded with a warm “Yes, ma’am.” Now that is the most everyday occurrence in Texas, but practically unheard of up here. In fact, that’s the first time any Vermont guy has ever responded to me like that in the two years we’ve been here. It sure caught my attention!

Saying “sir” and “ma’am” is normal in the South. You don’t even think about it, whether the person is young or old or good-looking or not. It’s just a part of the culture. So why did this simple response give me such a surprise? 

I had good food for thought as I drove away. I was taken aback by this short encounter for one simple reason: it was extremely unusual for Vermont. Y’all down South of us might not think much about such a normal custom, but it’s pretty special up here. Same thing with having a decent church within driving distance. Or like-minded friends. Or sunshine.

But I also had another thought: what do I have right now that I’m taking for granted? There are a lot of special things about Vermont – like a culture of fitness and health (you hardly see obesity here), people who are warm and friendly even to strangers, and winter sports that you can enjoy almost year-round. :) Someday I won’t live here anymore, and I’ll have a different culture to appreciate. I want to be grateful for what I have right now, and then grateful for what God gives me in the future – the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, it’s just different. (Although, I love the sir and ma’am thing. Maybe that one is greener? :)

What do you have around you right now that you might take for granted? What aspects of your culture do you appreciate? 


  1. Ems,
    Reading your blog, and appreciating you from afar, while here ministering in California. This morning I was driving down a road on the edge of the city and there were orchards after orchards of winter-bare, dormant almond trees. And then, suddenly, there was one of those orchards of old trees--you know, the ones that are past their prime, and not particularly pruned, where each tree has its own personality? The owner, either by neglect or because he loves the older, time-shaped trees, has not replaced these with fresh young units. And I think you know what I saw. These dear older trees, these "less-than-fully productive" orchard elders, in the middle of miles of brown, were in full, brilliant-white bloom. It was an archetypal California moment, and I thought immediately of you.

    Love you, girl. Keep living in the moment. I'll soon be home to Vermont.


  2. What a great post, Emmy dear!! I am inspired to be more and more thankful for the many wonderful things God has given us here in Vermont ....and wow, I sure do miss Texas too :)...
    Love you, sis! - Ibs


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