Picnic Basket Epiphany

It’s 5:45pm on a Monday.
Everyone and their brother is at Target.
Maybe their grandma, too.
It’s pouring cats and dogs outside.
Can’t people find anything better to do than peruse the aisles of knock off candles, As-Seen-On-TV gadgets and turquoise jewelry?

Wait a minute.  I’m here, too.  Without my brother, might I add (’cause I don’t have one), but Nana is waiting in the car outside.

A quick trip to the pharmacy found me lolligagging through the grocery section whilst I waited on a prescription to be filled, seeking out a quick meal to fix for my family tonight.

Spaghetti sauce?  For just a dollar a jar?
Heck yes!  I’ll take two, thank you!

Sourdough bread?  Peperidge Farm?
I never buy that brand, ’cause it’s so pricey.
It’s a splurge, but I just saved a ton on the store brand sauce.
ure, put it in my buggy!

Now I need some of that sprinkle stinky cheese for the top of Ole’ Smokey.
Maybe the name brand kind will be on sale.
Now where is it at?

As I rounded the corner of aisle number 5, I saw it.  I SAW IT!  Not the cheese, but something more sparkly.  Sitting on the lower shelf in the cool housewares section that taunts the hamburger meats and pineapples across the way in the grocery department, was a picnic basket.  Staring back at me in all of it’s pink and yellow woven glory, it was a simple wooden basket, much like I would imagine made a trip through the woods to granny’s house. Only, this one was jazzed up in colorful summertime hues.  It begs passersby, “Take me home with you and I’ll afford you the luxury of a perfect weekend picnic.  It will be all rainbows and unicorns.  Buy me and see!”

I realized something in that split second of hearing the fruitless attempts of that basket to promise me something it cannot (probably) deliver.

Thank you, magazine ads and television commercials.  Thank you, sitcoms and soap operas and ooshy, gooshy romance novels.  And thank you, Little Bear and Little Red Riding Hood.  Because of all these things and more, the promises of the picnic basket are alluring, to say the least.   Based on sheer emotion of these recalled things alone, it’s almost guaranteed a sell to a sucker like…well, like me!  Who woudln’t love to have a Sunday afternoon picnic with Pa and Ma and the Ingles girls in Walnut Grove?

Here’s what I’m getting at.  I’m a marketer by training, having the B.B.A. from a local university stuck behind some dresser or file cabinet in my house to prove it.  The lure of certain items, of styles of decorating, of ways of behavior…often these things come from our longing for the greener grass over there some where we’re not.

If only I would buy that picnic basket – all my fincancial woes, my menopausal blues, my family stresses, my lack of free time, my frizzy hair – all of this would go away, and I’d have chicken salad croissant sandwiches on an ant-free, plaid blanket.  I’d be drinking  lemonade spritzers  from old-timey paper straws with barber-shop stripes of orange and blue, enjoying head-tossing laughter with my immaculately clad children and adoring husband on a perfect 77 degree, partly sunny afternoon on a grassy green knoll overlooking a babbling creek.  

Babbling?  Or is it bubbling?  Babbling, bubbling…..anyhow, you get the picture, don’t you?  Can’t you see it?

I think having this picnic basekt epiphany might just cure my magazine addiction.  Yeah, we’re all addicted to something, right?  Things that promise to take us away to the perfection we imagine.

If only I could afford to buy that $400 dress from _____________ [you fill in the blank – I’m no fashionista, and little more than Wal-Mart and Catos comes to mind for me – but go ahead, plug in whatever expensive, high-end dress shop you can think of there] I’d surely turn the head of my ex-spouse and make his new girlfriend jealous…

If I eat a cheeseburger, I’ll feel so much better.  I’m a stress eater, you know.

If I [drink or smoke or do some sort of illegal drug excessively], I will be more confident.

If I buy all of those home decorating magazines, and cooking magazines, and gardening magazines, I will magically be able to turn my home into a Southern Living home, make my family healthier with all the good foods I prepare, and have a yard I can relax in.

Oh my!  I could go on and on and on.  So many things seem to offer us a quick answer to what we feel is missing.

The dress?  Self-value or worth.

The cheeseburger?  Comfort.

Alcohol, smoking, drugs?  Self-confidence.  Maybe a need to be seen as “cool”.

Magazines?  Perfection.

And what about my picnic basekt?  The one I didn’t buy?  It promises me time without worry.  It sings me a lullaby of carefree moments spent without worry over bills, or my kids’ schedules, or the Middle East…

Here’s the thing.  That all sounds great, but the conjured up image I have of the picnic basket perfection fails to mention the ants.  And the bumble bees.  And the wind, which will surely turn up any and all corners of the blanket I spread out, which will probably in turn spill drinks and flip grass clippings up onto any food the ants haven’t already eaten.  The humidity will be high, causing the crossaints to be soggy.  The temperature will be high, setting the stage for quick spoiling of the mayonnaise-based chicken salad.

Yeah, I think I’m going to give up the magazines for a while, but I might just go purchase that picnic basket. Afterall, it’s a perfect reminder to stop longing for the perfection of what might be, and instead enjoying the perfect imperfection that is all around me.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33:  “I have told you these things, so that in Me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world!”

Perfection in everything earthly is just not possible.  For each of us, what we would consider perfection is different.  Take heart, my friends!  Stop seeking out perfection and trying to “fix” things with….well….with things!  Or with other people.  Jesus Christ has overcome the world, and everything here is temporary.  TEMPORARY!  That includes the bad feelings, the oppressive longings, the insecurities….all of that junk.  Take heart!  And buy a picnic basket if you need soemthing to remind you of the immaculate celebration that awaits us on a perfectly manicured, lush lawn of green in The Master’s garden.

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