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What an Old Family Picture Teaches Me about Happiness

What an Old Family Picture Teaches Me about Happiness

This is one of my favorite family pictures. It depicts the Grapes of Wrath-ish portion of my family’s history.

There is so much I love about this snapshot of Mom, Uncle Jack, and Uncle Dick in the backyard of their home in Peoria in 1943.

The old wagon they’re sitting in.

The rug hanging from the line on the porch, no doubt recently beaten with a stick to remove the dust.

The broken pane of glass in the upstairs window. Which kid was responsible for that one?

The sagging porch that couldn’t possibly be watertight.

The mismatched patchwork porch railing. I count two proper-looking and firmly-attached spindles among the broken and missing. Someone gave up the fight and replaced the spindles on the left with boards removed from Tom Sawyer’s fence.

The pile of pallets and assorted lumber in the foreground that no doubt were assembled into a fort at some point by the boys.

And the mysterious rope that runs from the clothesline on the porch to the wood pile. Who tied it that way and why?

But it’s the kids’ faces that I love the most. They are peaceful, joyful even. Content to have a rusty wagon and a couple of siblings to share it with.

Uncle Jack looks serious. Even at 8 years old (the oldest) he took seriously his job as protector-of-the-younger-siblings.

Uncle Dick is mid-laugh, no doubt imagining the reaction he would get from the latest scheme he’d cooked up in his impish, ornery mind.

And my Mom is clapping, too young to realize that she’d be the butt of Uncle Dick’s pending practical joke.

If the kids knew they were poor, you can’t tell it by looking at their faces.

What do I learn from this?

Happiness has nothing to do with wealth. Not one jot, speck, or mite of an iota.

Connect with someone you love today. Therein is the secret to happiness.

If you liked this post, you might also like Tragedy + Time = Comedy (or The Day Our “Good Car” Nearly Killed Me).


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