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Give the Gift of Poverty: A Parental Strategy for Teaching Life Lessons

I still remember how it felt being a little girl listening intently to my grandfather reminisce. It was like having Norman Rockwell paint his vision of America on the canvas of my mind.

I grew up hearing stories of cold winter nights when Jack Frost sketched his icy masterpieces on the inside of single-pane bedroom windows. Of children sleeping five to a bed, snuggling and giggling under the covers, keeping each other warm. Of thunder jugs and outhouses.

In the back of my grandfather’s childhood home stood that old wooden shack. Just how far back it stood was a matter of perspective. The length of the walk somehow magically lengthened in direct disproportion to how desperately one needed to get there.

It was commonly known as a “one-seater.” The 4X4 shanty was fully furnished with an old plank fashioned into a bench. The hole that was cut out of the middle had been worn smooth with use and time. At your feet sat two bushel-baskets. One filled with red corncobs, the other with white ones. First, you used the red corncob, then, a white one -- to see if you needed to use another red one.