As a military wife for 30 years I dealt with the unpredictable life of short-notice relocations, deployments, and household emergencies. It just seemed to be the rule that major appliances break when my husband is away. Blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes are all more likely when I am on my own.
Perhaps because there was so much disorder that was out of my control, I was very protective of the order I could control. This was and is still especially true of my kitchen. (When my husband retired he was given strict orders to keep his engineering optimization tendencies away from my kitchen!) Family members only visited one or two times per year because we lived so far away. They would often try to help me in my kitchen. I found it very stressful. They did not know my system and it seemed a futile exercise to try and teach them the system when they were going to leave soon and probably not visit again until we were in a new house with a new system. Once they were gone, I felt burdened by trying to find all my things that had been helpfully put away but not where I normally put them. I remember breaking down into tears because I could not find the potato masher.
However, that lost potato masher made me take a hard look at myself. I was sobbing over a five-dollar kitchen tool. No one intentionally hid it from me. No one was trying to create chaos in my life. Someone had tried to help me out and ease my burdens and I was angry because they had done it imperfectly. So I recast the situation. Wasn't I fortunate that someone cared about me enough to want to make my life easier? Wasn't I fortunate that family members wanted to take time out of their lives to visit me? Wasn't I fortunate that my family members were still healthy enough to be able to visit? The lost potato masher seemed pretty insignificant in comparison.
I always think about that around Christmas when there are so many memories of wonderful family visits. I would not trade a perfectly organized kitchen for any of those memories. I am grateful for that lost potato masher because it offered a moment of grace to rethink my priorities and to be thankful for imperfections.