Jul 24, 2009

Simple Gifts

by Sarah Albrecht

Our four-slice toaster died and my twelve-year-old son begged me to give it to him so he could take it apart. Envisioning crumbs, screws, and gizmos scattered throughout the house, I almost said no. But I handed it over to him anyway. He spent an afternoon taking it apart, putting it back together, and studying every component to figure out how it worked. Then with rubber bands he souped up the springs that pop the toast to see how far he could blast pencils and other objects.

Oddly, the toaster got me thinking about my grandma’s raspberries. Every summer when we visited her in northern Utah, she set a bowl of fresh raspberries from her garden at each of our places. It was part of summer, for me an expectation without a realization of the knowledge and effort it took for her to grow them. As an adult who cringes at the price of grocery store raspberries and with some understanding of the trickiness of growing them, I see more clearly the nature of her simple gift.

That was the relationship between the toaster and the raspberries: simple gifts, borne of understanding or knowledge or skill…and love.

Writing can be a simple gift. My journal is a future gift to my family. Your insightful blogs are gifts to me. Voices of truth and beauty through poetry, songs and lengthier works can be gifts to whoever reads them.

I’m looking more to recognize and trying harder to give simple gifts, seeing them like the tender mercies of the Lord.


  1. Lovely post, Sarah. Thanks for reminding us of the simple gifts and being thankful.

  2. As a mom of boys that took apart clocks, toasters, radios, and other gadgets from age three, I commend you for looking past the possible mess and letting your son explore. All of my boys are very good now at fixing things. My 18 year old repairs his own truck because he can figure out how things work and where they go.

    I also raise berries, blackberries that is. The entire family raids them fresh off the bushes but if any are left over we have them on cereal or icecream.

    Great memories, and how lovely to think of these things. I really enjoyed your post.

  3. Good post Sarah. Simple gifts are sometimes the very best.

  4. I have the first line or two of "Simple Gifts," or whatever that lovely old, is it Amish?, song is. "Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free; 'Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be. . . ." Too bad I don't remember it all, now that I want to.
    Sometimes I even pay the outlandish price for raspberries just to bask in the memories of the big raspberry patch on the farm, and the hours of picking. Mother canned them in her own way. She washed and filled quart jars with the fresh berries, added syrup and screwed on the lids. She had already brought an oblong washboiler of water to a boil, then got the men to lift it down onto a slatted platform made to match. After lifting the jars carefully into the hot water, she put the lid on the boiler and wrapped it in quilts to sit for a day or two until it was cool. Her bottled raspberries stayed fresh-looking and whole, and made great eating during the cold winters in Idaho.

    We also had canned raspberry juice, raspberry jelly (with apples to furnish the pectin) and seedless raspberry jam. Wish i could remember how she got the seeds out. Maybe it'll come back some time.

    Strange, but raspberries were not my favorite fruit until I discovered how expensive they are in the store.,


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