Since my husband had to work, I decided to have a full day with the kids today. Now, taking my three kids anywhere is an ordeal, but I planned to go to a pumpkin festival, the Morton Arboretum’s fall fest, and then somehow make a magical family dinner happen. On top of that, I threw in a craft fair to kick off the day.
It was at the craft fair that something beautiful happened though. For those of you who have never been to a craft fair, the whole concept just smells of sweet hometown goodness. There’s fresh cooked food and bakery items, hand crafted knickknacks, and the cutest, hodgepodge things for sale. I swear, you walk by each table saying, “Ooh! that’s cute!” This is stuff that you SWORE you’d never buy for YOUR house, and yet you debate for 20 minutes over whether to buy it or not.
This particular show was the cream of the crop though. When I walked in, there were two old men sitting by the front entrance to hold the door for the ladies and to direct people.
Once inside, I got caught up in the labyrinth of tables — Halloween stuff, Christmas stuff, bows for little girls, hair flowers for big girls, sparkly jewelry, homemade soaps, purses…it was endless. About half way through, I stopped to ask myself why I felt alive looking through these tables. It was because women got to be women. They got to envision a way to make someone or something more beautiful, create that thing — that way, and then have someone else value it. It was rare. It is rare.
After making my way through the aisles, I took the kids over to the cafeteria. Since we were in a Greek church, we ordered up the only thing they had — … Greek food. As I sat there, feeding my children, I couldn’t help but notice all the other women in the cafeteria staring at us — staring at my children to be more exact. It was like they were all re-picturing what it was like to raise their own children, longing to have even one more moment of it. I got to tell you, it was a really touching moment to be in a place that valued my kids. They didn’t want to educate them, or tame them, or suck money out of my pocket through them. They just wanted to love them. So rare.
Our last stop was the bakery aisle. Besides having pastries that could kick my recipe’s butts (no, really, the Hallelujah chorus may have sounded as I took a bite into the Bavarian Cream), besides that though, I was awestruck as I watched as the women carefully crafted the wrapping of their handmaid goods. They worked together. They were proud that someone got to enjoy the fruit of their labor, and they had a sense of purpose. I’m talking about seeing eighty-something year-old women come to life. It was magnificent. So magnificent that I started to cry.
I wept because it was beautiful. And I wept because my generation hasn’t valued it, and it will soon be gone. I wept because the women of my generation will never know how powerful these women truly are.
As one of my good friends reminded me this week Queen Esther didn’t change the world because she organized an army of people to storm the castle. She changed the world by offering her beauty, her company, and a meal. I long for my girlfriends to “get it.” I long to “get-it-and-keep it.” And I hope I have the courage to live it out.