It’s the time for getting, giving and hopefully, feeling grateful.

There is a lot in the news about stress over all these verbs and how to deal with it. The stress coming from what to give, who to give it to, family relationships- good and bad, pressure to go home, stay or even leave town!

Then there is the new year and thoughts of what will happen to job, family, finances, etc. Maybe pressure over change, doing things differently.

Heard a phrase about keeping it simple. As simple as “chopping wood and toting water”. Wood for heat in cooking and keeping warm, and water for drinking, cooking, cleaning. Necessities if you live a simple life. I have never chopped wood, only sawed it and anything more than 3” took some doing. I have never toted water either but I have shoveled coal. Thinking of toting water…(well I have, during hurricane Hugo when we had no water for two weeks in town) a friend was teaching children about other countries and just what it took to “fetch” water, a job usually given to children or women. To learn a bit of what it took, the children brought in empty gallon jugs, then went to the spigot farthest away. There they filled their jugs and brought them back to the class room. An effort for them but they came to understand this vital, simple chore. I remember it because of this lesson myself and feel grateful for water that comes with a turn of a handle…and heat from pushing a button.

I was given a book the other week by a friend who said…”you’ll like it”. I did and I do.

A good thing to reflect on in the new year, It is a about sheep, a psalm and lessons that apply to all of life. A SHEPHERD LOOKS AT THE 23rd PSALM by Philip Keller, a for real shepherd living in Africa.

The lessons…in order for sheep to be healthy and to lie down in green pastures the following four things are necessary: because of a sheep’s timidness they have to be free of fear. Because of the social behavior within the flock they have to be free from friction. If bothered by flies or parasites they will not lie down. They have to be free of pests. They will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food. They have to be free from hunger.

Well, this info is good for parents, teachers and leaders.

The word “downcast’’ has new meaning after reading this book. A cast sheep is one who has turned over on its back and cannot get up again owing to the weight of its wool, oftentimes the healthiest of the flock. In order to be righted, the shepherd must notice it is missing, seek it out and right it. A lesson for many that have friends lonely and alone at this time of year.

Well these paragraphs don’t have the answers to happiness, perfect presents, making people whole again or righting wrongs here or globally.

I do know that when things are kept simple, it becomes easy to do what really needs to be done. To see clearly, to be free. Less is more. The abundance of things is wearisome!

I am grateful for all the people in this community that contribute to causes that help people and pets.( A community is judged by how it cares for those who cannot care for themselves.) I am grateful for a police department who I have seen treat homeless and intoxicated people with such gentleness and compassion. I am grateful for a town that is really a city but acts like a town in its small town friendliness. I am grateful for traffic because it means people love it here and come! That there are jobs to be had. And most recently I am grateful for a new town square that is so beautiful!

Rambling words, but hopefully there is something in the above that brings peace to the season. A last comment…

Went to the doctor’s recently for a yearly check up, passed and was grateful for that and… insurance. While sitting in a chair having your vitals taken there is a picture straight ahead… “Galway (Ireland) 1901”. The picture is of two women talking and smiling in front of a store in short coats, long heavy skirts with aprons…torn, mended and dirty. They both are carrying babies wrapped in blankets slung around their shoulders. It must be very cold but seemingly without a care, under one’s long skirts, in the photo you can see… bare feet.

Chop wood/tote water. Keep it simple…be grateful.

Diane Frankenberger owns People, Places and Quilts on Richardson in downtown Summerville.