12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. (Ecclesiastes 3:12)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Well mamas, it’s time to get your babies ready to start a new year of school. The displays of school supplies made me nostalgic this year, and I began to think of school years long past. I’m going to tell you a story that dates me a bit. When I was in the first grade, and my sister Cathie was in the sixth grade, we attended Buerkle Elementary School in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Back then, money went a lot further than it does now. All you needed was three cents.
For three cents, you could buy a carton of morning milk, either white milk or chocolate. We all drank full-fat whole milk because nobody thought much about their arteries back then. (After all, everyone knew that you needed to eat meat at every meal and that every morning needed to start with bacon, sausage, and fried eggs.)
If you wanted an extra half-pint of milk to drink with your lunch, you could purchase that, too, for only three cents. You gave the coins to your teacher, and, with a pair of rounded-point scissors, she would cut you a tiny slip of paper with the word “MILK” mimeographed on it in purple ink. You gave the tiny ticket (much smaller than a fortune-cookie paper) to the lunchroom lady, and she would put an extra carton of milk on your tray. All this for three cents.
(It’s surprising to me now that I never heard of a kid counterfeiting a milk ticket. I guess there weren’t Xerox machines back then. Or maybe people were more honest then. Or maybe people didn’t make counterfeits because that would mean owning up to the fact that you didn’t have three cents.)
Another thing that you could buy for three cents was a single crayon. Everybody in my first grade class had an 8-pack of Crayolas. The crayons didn’t all wear down equally. Halloween and Thanksgiving caused a shortage of orange, black, and brown. Christmas and St. Valentine’s Day caused us to run out of red and white—with December being especially hard on the green crayon, too. Back then, when you used up a crayon or broke one, your parents didn’t buy you a whole ‘nother box. Instead, you purchased the one crayon you needed from your teacher – for three cents.
(In my first-grade mind, I couldn’t imagine where the teachers got all these crayons from the supply room. I pictured them opening a new 8-pack to get a single crayon each time, and I couldn’t imagine what they did with all the leftover crayons that weren’t in popular colors. Cathie said that she had been in the supply room one time, and that they had big boxes of each color. I couldn’t even form a mental picture of this. But we agreed that it was a great deal for only three cents.)
So what’s the point of this devotion? It’s probably the fact that I still remember these things after over 40 years. Think about your life. I would bet that the memories that warm your heart with so much joy are memories of small things. The small things are what your children are going to remember, too, so you had better take the time to do them.
In today’s Scripture verse (at the top) King Solomon says that we should spend our lives doing good works that are pleasing to God and in striving to be happy. As we start a new school year, let’s start a new habit by taking the time to do the little things that brighten the days for others.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” *Sing that title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 18) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Cash boys are always needing a lot more than 3 cents for something at school). You should write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.