My maternal grandmother Susie had about 3 aphorisms that have stuck with me throughout the years and which I attempt to pass on to my own children. They are also excellent subjects on which to ponder during Lent.
- “Pretty is as pretty does.”
- “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
- “Don’t fritter it all away.”
Point #1 is pretty self-explanatory but, as a general rule, nobody in America seems to be engaging in any self-reflecting of their own behavior. That was an across the board, across the aisle, across party, state, racial, gender, transgender and religious lines statement. (Ask yourself: Am I always right? Is there perhaps some room for error? Could my self-deceptive little heart possibly not have interpreted the situation correctly? Or, AM I SELF-RIGHTEOUS?) Check your privilege.
I could really write wild about #2 – my husband’s employer started his departure process from the company on the third business day after my mother died, two days before the funeral – but I will remain silent on this point and move on to point #3, frittering.
“Frittering” is not a term with much currency today. It means wasting, but slowly, trickling, leaking, like air from a tire with a bent rim. Even when you pump it back up it happens all over again.
My grandmother grew up in Indiana so I believe this to be a midwestern turn of phrase; I recently read the term used by Indiana author Erin Loechner in her new book published by Zondervan entitled Chasing Slow. Maybe Ms. Loechner and I are third cousins or something because I felt that I actually live in her head. (Please read this book and save yourselves.)
In 1980, before I went to France with my paternal grandmother Marie, Grandma Susie handed me $30 and said to me, “Buy something nice. Don’t fritter it all away.” She was sitting up in bed wearing a white eyelet bed jacket, bald, her signature Estee Lauder coral lipstick masterfully applied. We had just gone through her jewelry to find the fancy stuff with which to accessorize.
These were, in retrospect, perhaps the last words she ever spoke to me. I did not ever see her again after that visit. During that trip to France, though, her words rolled around in my head. I knew Susie was dying. How to honor both her and her words?
Why, a gold fleur de lys charm, of course!
Susie had beautiful charm bracelets which she wore regularly. I spent all the money on the charm, knowing my grandmother would approve. It had not been spent on postcards, chocolate, Eiffel tower statues. As I grew up, I would forgot this lesson, frittering away my (our) money on postcards, chocolate, Eiffel tower statues, and these absolutely beautiful French jacquard dishtowels.
Sally, however, was not a fritterer. Not of time, not of money. Cookbooks were her one vice – does that even count? As I survey just the files on her laptop, Sally had concrete objectives. What 78 year old is working really hard before heart surgery to participate in Ali Edwards’ Daily December online project? To find recipes for her cooking website that are easy for families to make in a busy busy busy world? Sally had recently bought an Insta Pot and was eager to experiment.
More than money, Sally did not want you to fritter away your time. There is simply not enough of it. Delete, delete, delete. Have you noticed that the more you slow down, the more time becomes available and expands?
My eye “accidentally” caught this scripture this morning from Isaiah 30:15:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
I deleted the last phrase of the verse which said, “but you would have none of it” because that is just not how Sally rolled. She repented, she rested, she was quiet, and she trusted. She listened and she spoke the truth in love. Her spirit told me very clearly to plant my behind for 40 days, to rest and to write, but not to fritter. Especially not to fritter my relationships.
I leave you with an entry from CookSallyCook.com – see if you can find the word fritter. It’s in there.