As I think I have mentioned before, my mom was the founder and owner of the Ruth Cross Museum of Kitchen Gadgets. I believe she singlehandedly managed to keep the kitchen gadget manufacturing industry in business. I won’t recount all the whatitz and whositz that populated the shelves, each with its own very particular specific task, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she had them all – and used them! If you need a cucumber sliced in thin spirals, or a spritz of melted butter on the potato that you just took out of the microwave potato cooker, the Museum could easily accommodate.
There were also some special wings of the museum – galleries, if you would – where the sheer number of “things” made it a sight to see. One of the more unusual sets in the collection was a box full of the caps from long-ago used up Bic pens. Not the pens – just the caps. I never was able to get a straight answer about that particular asset, except to believe if a van carrying un-capped Bic pens were to go out of control and rollover in front of their house, Mom could go right to the rescue and keep them all from drying out. You need to be prepared in this life.
One part of the museum could be seen as a founding arm. Stored in many different drawers was the famed “Lids and Container” collection. I’m sure it had existed since the early 1960s, and “contained” any and all plastic containers and their lids. Mom never met a Tupperware party she didn’t like, or a Rubbermaid display, or just a Cool Whip container. Mind you, the delicate balance of these important kitchen items meant that you never stored the containers and the lids in one location. One drawer for lids, one for the other. Of course, the thrilling challenge would come as you tried to find the right lid for the right container. This exercise could go on for hours, if you were not trained in the science of mixing and matching. Mom, however, could go out to the collection, and in seconds find the perfect size and the perfect match for any and all needs. She was kind of a savant in that way… What was not publicly revealed, however, was that the collection at times became unbalanced, and with a container melting in the microwave, or getting cracked from being cleaned in the dishwasher, only a poor lid remained, to be dutifully tossed in with its comrades, but never to see action again.
This brings us to our current day. I am sure that each of the seven children born of this woman also carried the Lids and Containers gene. Passed down through the generations, every home that was occupied by a descendant, I suspect, also has at least two drawers in the kitchen or pantry dedicated to this important work. For convenience, I’ll just talk about our own home. ON the right side of the kitchen, at the bottom of the row of drawers next to the sink, you will find the two drawers. The very bottom, the largest, holds the containers, of all shapes and sizes, and the next drawer up, a smaller version, contains lids of all imagination.
We too – because I include Cheri in this – have built our own respectable collection over the years. Some were gifts, even from the wedding, now almost 40 years ago, and some were outright purchases, and even more came to us as the result of very nice Chinese food delivered. To look at the drawers, you almost find yourself drawn into Willy Wonka’s factory – a place of pure imagination.
But there has been a quiet festering struggle in our own Lids and Containers. As the years have progressed, I had become more and more frustrated by the fact that as I would reach into either drawer, I could find a wonderful specimen of exactly what I needed, but going to the next drawer, its companion was nowhere to be found. Also, there was becoming a bit of an archaeological challenge, as layers of the items became less and less used, leaving a very small contingent available. You just can’t function this way. Pretty soon, you are left to just using Ziploc bags…
So, during Christmas break, I devised the dangerous plan. We would pull out the contents of both drawers, place them on the dining room table… and MATCH them up! More importantly, whatever container had no lid, or lid with no container, would find themselves firmly placed in recycle land. A scary and momentous task, I know, but it had to be done.
One of the more unusual items was a lid that was probably 16 inches by 6 inches large, that had been floating in the lid drawer for, I believe, years. Now, Cheri has the ability to go way beyond the two drawers and to stash especially the containers in other cupboards or closets and such. I fully expected to finally see the behemoth container that fit that lid. But no – somehow, a container that could be almost used to give a small animal a bath was absent. Frankly, I never recalled seeing it in the first place – just the lid. We commended the Big Lid to the earth.
And so it went. Match after match, leaving only the lonesome singles piled up at the end of the table. When we finally made the last toss, there was a strange peace that came over us – we finally would be able to find a match for each part, guaranteed…
That’s how our New Year began, with drawers only half full, but with probably twice as many containers as we could ever use, but we won’t get into that. You just never know when you’ll need to store the remains of a freeze-dried elephant, or 50 acres of harvested corn.
Just as a matter of good sense, I believe every container should have its lid, and vice versa. In our lives, there is a nice balance when that is able to happen. It’s sort of like having both socks match up, instead of tossing singles into the sock drawer in hopes that someday they will find each other. I imagine what might happen if we humans would do a better job of connecting important parts of our lives, instead of leaving messy edges and pieces that have no connection with other things. I know that life is messy, and part of the adventure of living is realizing that not all things fit together cleanly or certainly. However, we humans do have the tendency to hang on to those things that no longer have purpose for us, like memories of bad relationships, or failures or broken promises. Those things are like mismatched contents in a drawer, and I believe, with care, and deliberation, they are best put in the recycle bin.
What are you carrying around, as ballast in your life? What unnecessary parts of your past are you unable to simply set down by the side of the road? Claim and cherish the worthwhile parts of your life, and find the capacity for new joy, as you intentionally let go of the old unhappy past. Otherwise, you can certainly expect not much will match up in your life as abundant and significant parts of you.
Word for the day: flunter-drawer. The first part of the phrase is as it sounds: FLUNT-er. The phrase is truly from Scotland, as they have a tendency to create some of the most fun and unusual words to describe their everyday life. A “flunter” to a Scot is a loose fragment of something – a piece of something that might have been valuable at some time, but now is only a piece of it. Sort of like the cap of a Bic pen. Yet, it’s hard to throw it out, so instead, the frugal Scot would take the flunter, and toss it in the flunter-drawer, where at some point in the future, one might find a use for a useless bit of nothing.
Today, of course, we call them “junk drawers” in our homes, where we will discover dozens of pens from hotel rooms, a small strip of staples unused, bent paper clips, black plastic washers, for some reason, or the ends of small notepads. That’s why they make drawers that can be closed. Best sight unseen.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.