Tim and I spent the last day of April in Smicksburg. While visiting an Amish family, something extraordinary happened. Let me explain.
Little Andy, age ten, is the chatterbox of the family, and he had ants in his pants, excitement making him jump. “Do you know we had a half-day today because tomorrow is the school picnic? We walked home because we had a half day. It’s only a two-mile hike through the woods. And it’s so nice outside. I can’t wait for the school picnic! We have so much fun. So much to eat. We play games! The parents come to school for the whole day!”
I chuckled and asked what else they did at the picnic. He tilted his head and flung up his arms and repeated what he just said with more gusto. And he added, “There’s no school, and it’s the last day! We’re off for the summer!!!!!”
I understood that part. I lived for the last day of school when I was in elementary school. I chatted with the other kids and they came back to talking about the school picnic. You’d think they won a trip to Disneyland, I thought. And then it hit me. These children enjoyed simple things. A picnic with food and games. Community. Once again, I felt like I was transported out to the prairie and was talking to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The oldest son, Reuben, was thirteen and graduating. He seemed a little sad but went on to explain that he has an apprenticeship with a wood carver to satisfy the state’s requirements. Pennsylvania makes Amish children do a one-year vocational training after they finish eighth grade. Rueben will put in his one year, but he already had a job with his grandfather making sheds. He’ll be taking over the business someday. That transported me to Ben Walton who worked with his grandpa on Walton’s Mountain during the Great Depression.
So, what was extraordinary? Children content with simple things. Children not hooked to electronics. Children who had fun the old-fashioned way. Baseball and apple pie. I think I need to hang out with these kids more and learn from them. How easy it is to become discontent in our pleasure saturated culture.
We went back to the camp and reevaluated our lives.