When I was in the fourth grade, I celebrated my birthday party on the Gateway Clipper riverboat in downtown Pittsburgh. At that party, one of my friends gifted me a Snoopy bank, which to this day remains in pristine condition and sits displayed on a bookshelf in my guest bedroom — a fond reminder of that special time and my childhood. It also brings to mind some of the important lessons I learned growing up.
As a little girl, my parents instilled in my sisters and me the value of work and the importance of giving. There was great significance in our contribution as individuals and as members of the family. Some of what we did was simply expected — brushing our teeth, washing our hands, saying please and thank you, making our beds every day, hanging up our towels after our bath, putting our dirty clothes down the laundry chute, keeping our shared rooms straightened, doing our homework, etc.
But there were other jobs that carried more weight and had greater impact upon our family, in part or as a whole. These daily or weekly chores had to be prioritized in a different way and needed to be done with a willing heart and without complaining — setting the table, doing the dishes, dusting and vacuuming, doing the laundry, ironing, mowing the grass, etc.
With four girls in the house, this definitely caused some sibling rivalry and parental challenges. In fact, I remember times when Dad had to sit in the kitchen reading the evening newspaper while we girls did the dishes in order to aid in keeping the peace. (Sorry, Dad!)
These simple lessons taught us about how to live our lives, the importance of taking care of ourselves, how to be obedient to authority, how to respect and love one another, how to work as a team, how to work through a problem or an argument, how to be honest and humble, how to appreciate the gifts and efforts of others, how to be a good steward, how to give back.
Some lessons were easy to learn; others were not so easy. (My poor parents!) But when done with a correct heart and to the best of our ability, these lessons helped to impart a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. It also helped to cultivate a desire to do more without expecting anything in return.
Our efforts were also rewarded with an allowance (something for today) that went into my Snoopy bank, a savings account (something for tomorrow), and a little white envelope (something for God).
I remember dad teaching me how to calculate an amount to set aside for my little white envelope. It felt good when I opened my Snoopy bank to select a coin. It felt right when I placed it in the church basket each month. It helped me realize that blessings come from God and how important it was for me to do my part in giving back to God and to my Church. In particular, my offering was a sacrifice to be done with a generous heart.
Later this year will mark the 50th birthday to come and go since my party on the Gateway Clipper. My memories of that day are vague at best, but I love that “antique” Snoopy bank and what it represents in my life. And while I have not lived under the direct tutelage of my mom and dad for well over half of my life, I am forever indebted to God for blessing me with parents who devoted their lives to raising four daughters to the best of their ability and demonstrated the love and teachings of Christ through everyday life and little white envelopes.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.