Monday, August 8, 2011

The Message of the Box

We have an old, wooden box in our family room that serves as a coffee table but more importantly - a reminder of where we came from and how we want to live. The box is very special to me because it once contained every single earthly possession that my mother, aunt, and grandparents owned when they came to the United States as immigrants from Hungary.

They had endured much turmoil as their country was torn apart in World War II and they were displaced and living as refugees prior to coming to America. It was during this time that my grandparents faced the sorrow of burying their four month old baby girl, my Aunt Theresia, who died from starvation. My mother remembers her parents going from one farmer to the next begging for milk for her little sister whom my grandmother was too malnourished to nurse. As refugees, they did not receive any compassion so the baby did not survive.

Thankful for the offer to work for a Norfolk, VA businessman in exchange for travel expenses aboard the U.S.S. General Taylor, my grandfather gathered up his wife and two daughters and headed to the land of opportunity. Every possession needed for a family of four to begin a new life was neatly placed in the single box.

One might assume that my mother and aunt, in an effort to never again face such poverty, would have become intent on amassing material possessions and large bank account balances. However, they have lived their entire adult lives in complete agreement with the message of the box: Live simple, be grateful for what you have, and value family over possessions.

It was in this spirit that my aunt called me a couple of months ago to discuss my sister's son's upcoming wedding in California. She said that she knew how difficult it would be for my family to make a road trip across the country. She explained that she had accumulated more money than she needed and wanted to bless my family with airfare to California. And not only my family, but also my sister's family living in Florida, and my mom living in North Carolina.

At first thought, it seemed unconscionable to accept such an extravagant gift. But as I began to reflect on the kind and selfless traits that have always characterized my aunt, it seemed only prideful to decline her offer. So because of Nana's generosity, we were able to fly to my nephew's wedding and then even enjoy a vacation afterward!

How very blessed I am to have an aunt who, through her example, comes alongside my family and permeates my children's lives with her testimony of simplicity and generosity.

In Nana's desire to live simple and value family over possessions she whispers the message of the box. How blessed my family is to be part of her life.

Nana with the kids

Thank you, Nana, for flying all of us to California!
(My sister's family, my mom, and my family)

1 comment:

zookeeper said...

that is a truly lovely story. I understand why "the box" means so much to you, and the message is a wonderful one to raise a family by. Just randomly stumbled across your blog today and wanted to let you know that I was touched by your story.