When I was 12, I was friends with a girl that was about a year and a half younger than I was. She was 2 grades behind me, but we got along really well. I was invited to her birthday party when she turned 11. It was going to be a sleepover party, she had invited a few friends and we were told that we were being invited to have dinner with them as part of the party.
When I got to my friend's house, we started at the dinner table. She had a couple of younger brothers and we all piled around the table, her parents included. Dinner turned out to be canned peas, with bread and butter. See, my friend's family lived on food stamps and a very small income. Her father was disabled because he had been injured in the Vietnam War, so he wasn't able to work. He had been fitted with a glass eye because he had lost an eye during the war.
My friend's father said grace and then we all got to eating. Her father bent over his bowl and started to eat, but as he did, his glass eye fell out and into his bowl of peas. Apparently, the eye hadn't been fitted correctly and was a bit loose at times. My friends and I just stopped and stared. No one knew what to do. We didn't dare say anything or even breathe.
My friend's father just looked up at us, with a hole where his eye was supposed to be, cracked a bit of a smile and said, "Well, it looks like I just pea-ed all over my eye. They do say it's supposed to be sterile." Everyone lost it at that point and it took a while for us all to stop laughing. He picked his glass eye out of the bowl of peas, licked it off and popped it back into the socket. I'd never seen anything like that before in my life, nor have I have seen anything like it since. Every time I eat canned green peas, I think about that story and chuckle a bit inside. I even crack a smile. The ironic thing is that I still love green canned peas. Seeing someone's glass eyeball fall into a bowl of them didn't ruin them for me. In fact, the hilarity of the situation makes me love them even more.
Now that I'm older and the novelty has worn off (okay, who am I kidding....the novelty of seeing a glass eye falling into a bowl of peas NEVER wears off!), the association has even more meaning to me.
I didn't realize at the time that my friend's family was sharing everything they had with us that night. I have never been in a situation in my life where I've only had a couple cans of vegetables and white bread in my cupboards. Thinking back on that slumber party all those years ago, I don't recall ever seeing them feel embarrassed that peas and bread were all they had to offer. I don't recall them acting like it was a stretch or hard for them to offer us what little they had. They offered it gladly. They knew how to laugh at themselves and how to make light of seemingly awkward situations. It was one of the happiest families I ever spent a dinner with.
My friend's family eventually moved away and we lost contact, but I'll never forget the lessons that I came away with from that night.....or that a simple lick could clean off a glass eyeball.....who woulda thunk it? *wink*
Many of us share out of our abundance, but how many of us ever share from everything we have? Even more so....how many of us share but have yet to find the joy in it? And how many of us find the hilarious side of situations? If we can't laugh at ourselves, we might as well cry and let's face it, it's just not near as much fun.
Who knew there was so much to learn from a bowl of canned peas? Eh? ;)