As possibly the oldest Exponent contributor, I feel some responsibility to warn my younger sisters of some of the opportunities of old age that await them. This past holiday season I encountered a life transition that I had not anticipated. One December evening the doorbell rang, and I answered it to find the youth of the ward, riding on a trailer covered with bales of hay. They serenaded me with Christmas carols. This, in itself, is not unusual. We live just down the hill from the church, and have frequently been caroled to, a convenient stop on their route. But what happened next absolutely amazed and dismayed me. A young man ran up my front stairs and handed me… not a plate of cookies, not a candy cane, but a fruit basket!! A fruit basket!! I could hardly believe my eyes! When did we become fruit basket recipients!
As a youth I participated in the traditional Christmas caroling, and I remember taking fruit baskets to the elderly. You know, the geezers of the ward that maybe didn’t get nutritious food very often, or maybe didn’t have all their teeth or something. Then I grew up, and as a young women leader I became the one that assembled the fruit baskets for the kids to deliver. I tried to choose good looking fruits for the geriatric population of the ward, feeling rather sorry for the pitiful people that got fruits instead of cookies, because you know, diabetes. Little did I realize that my husband and i have somehow become fruit basket recipients! I don’t quite know how it happened. Some life transitions are well defined: Kid, Teen, Grownup, Parent, Parent of Teenagers, Grandparent (the best), Empty Nester (pro tip: buy a toaster oven). Each of these transitions comes with lots of advice from friends and family, articles online with coping skills, a variety of pros and cons. I have never seen an article about gracefully transitioning into a fruit basket recipient. It sort of threw me for a loop. Yes, my husband and I are grey haired. Yes, all our kids are grown up. We do listen to NPR. But, we still live in a house with stairs. We still work at jobs. We don’t wear slippers in public. We still have our teeth. Of course, we are old as dirt to your average beehive or deacon. Using terms like “old as dirt” is proof that we are. I confess to being rather more annoyed than grateful. Perhaps even miffed. I almost chose to be offended.
And yet. The older I get the more I appreciate our interconnectedness. We have covenanted to bear one another’s burdens. To love one another. We can’t do it alone. It is more comfortable to always be on the serving, giving end. But giving can’t happen without receiving also happening. I have been the fruit basket giver, and the fruit basket buyer. Now I am the receiver of the fruit basket. I need to feel gratitude that we were thought of, that we were shared with, that we are part of the family of the children of God. I hope I can be a gracious giver and receiver. Also, the fruit was delicious.