Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Be thankful

He wanted to take that old lantern and smash it up against the thief's head.   It didn't matter that it was one of those old oil lanterns, not worth much of anything; the whole situation irritated him beyond relief. Stealing is wrong and thieves should be punished. It was logical reasoning for an eight-year-old and as an adult, Nick recalled the events, remembering a sense of grave injustice every time the lantern was returned.

The neighbor, we'll call her Yitonia, would bring the lantern back to Nick's mother, Chevi, a few times a week and apologize for her son who had taken it.  Chevi would invite the neighbor in. "Oh, kids are that way," she'd say in her light manner, as if it were nothing, but young Nick fumed with anger.

And then Chevi would give Yitonia some of her bean soup she'd made or some olive oil that was stored in the back room.  Yitonia knew Chevi didn't have much, barely enough to feed her own family.

"Oh, no, no, really.  I can't," Yiotonia would say, but Chevi would insist and the other woman would leave with her loot.

One day, as Chevi was getting ready to go to the farm with the kids, Little Nick came into the house with the oil lantern.

"What are you doing?" his mother asked him.

"Hiding this from Yitonia's son," he said wondering for the first time why his mother had never thought of that easy remedy.

"Niko," she said, "Don't you think if the boy were actually stealing it, it would stay gone.  We'd never see it again."

Nick listened and, yes--it did seem logical, what his mother was saying. He nodded.

"Yitonia sends her son to get that lantern whenever they run out of food.  Go put it back in the store room."

Young Nick walked slowly back to the store room feeling more at ease, knowing his family's possessions were safe.  He did not climb up on the carving stump to hang the lantern on the peg where it usually hung. Instead, he placed it carefully on the floor, just inside the door and then he joined his mother as she made her way to the farm with the children.

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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