Potato Salad and PicnicsBy Nancy B. Gibbs

Life is like potato salad; when it’s shared it becomes a picnic. When my three children were young, my husband Roy and I were very busy. He was working on his masters degree while working three jobs and I had three jobs of my own. There was very little time that wasn’t crammed with stress, busy-ness and term papers. “Can we go on a picnic, Mama?” my six-year old daughter, Becky begged. “Please.” I had said no so many times in recent months, I decided the usual Saturday morning chores could wait. To her surprise, I agreed. I prepared a few sandwiches and filled a cooler with ice and drinks and called Roy at work. “Meet us at the college pond for a picnic at twelve o’clock sharp,” I said excitedly. My eleven-year-old twin sons loaded the cooler and the picnic basket in the trunk and off we went to spend some quality time together as a family. I glanced at the kitchen counter just before heading to the car and spied a package of stale hamburger buns. I thought about the family of ducks living at the pond. We stopped and picked up a bucket of fried chicken at a fast-food restaurant on the way. Becky and I spread the tablecloth on the cement picnic table while Brad and Chad tossed a football back and forth. In no time flat the ducks joined us. Becky squealed with delight as the ducks begged for breadcrumbs. About the time I got the lunch spread out on the table, Roy arrived on the scene. We joined hands and bowed our heads. As the wind blew and the ducks quacked, he thanked God not only for the food but for our family. That was one of the happiest meals we ever shared together. The gentle breeze God sent our way caressed my face, as the sunshine warmed my heart. The meal was graced with giggles and laughter. We felt a closeness that had been hidden by work and school-related responsibilities for so many months. Once the food was consumed, Roy and the boys skipped rocks on the lake. Becky continued to feed the ducks and I sat quietly on the picnic table, thanking God for blessing me with such a wonderful family. Too soon, Roy had to go back to work. The kids continued to play together while I watched. I put the many things which I needed to do on the backburner of my life and simply enjoyed sharing the day with my children. Seeing the joy on each of their faces made me smile. When we got into the car to return home, Becky crawled in the front seat with me. “Here Mama!” she exclaimed. She was holding a tiny yellow wildflower. Happy tears came to my eyes as I reached out and took it from her. When we arrived home, I put the tiny flower in a toothpick holder and placed the remaining food into the refrigerator. That night as I tucked our children under their covers, I kissed their cheeks and realized what a wonderful life I had. “Thank you for the picnic,” one of the boys whispered. “My pleasure,” I whispered back. As I walked out of the room it dawned on me that even the busiest lifestyle could become a picnic when it’s shared it with the ones you love. Even though the kids have now grown up and moved away from home, I can still remember how I felt that day while sitting on the picnic table. Maybe today would be a good time to cook potato salad, call all of my grown kids, feed some hungry ducks and throw a few rocks into the lake. Since life is like potato salad, let’s make it a picnic.

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