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Lessons from home: Polishing the silver

By Ann Mann

My mother was a child of the Great Depression. My grandfather was a sharecropper. My grandmother took in sewing to help make ends meet. To give you an idea of what life was like, my mom talked about wearing clothes made from feed sacks. And when it came time for supper, the family welcomed neighbors and fieldhands to the dinner table. It was a casual affair, but the food was always great.

My mother was also an excellent student. She earned a scholarship to attend college, becoming a registered nurse. It was in college she met my father. They fell in love and married soon after she graduated. She wore a borrowed dress. Daddy was an insurance salesperson and did well. As a two-income family (before that was a thing) they had a little extra money.

I think because she grew up in extreme poverty, she thought it was important for her children to have some of the finer things in life. Through one of the department stores, she bought three pieces of silver flatware every week, until she had bought enough for three complete sets. One was for my older sister, one for me, and one for my brother. Here is the sad part. I hardly ever use that silver flatware (neither do my brother or sister.)

My mom and dad also passed on something else, something I use every day. They passed on their faith in Christ. They took us to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night, and Wednesday nights, too.

We learned how to read our Bibles, and pray, and that we carry Jesus with us everywhere. Then one day, my parent’s faith became my own. It is a gift finer than any silver.

As this new school year begins, I encourage us to think about what we are passing down to our children. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reminds us to love God with all our hearts. We are to share that love with our children, to talk about it when we are at home and away, to talk about it when we lie down and when we get up.

Maybe this Sunday, as we gather around the Sunday table, I will polish that silver and say a special prayer for all my parents taught me.

(Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is

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