No family is perfect and every family has its secrets. The secret in our family was kept for 35 years.
We were to go on a picnic on a Sunday afternoon right after church. The house was to be clean. Everyone was to be up and ready for church. No fighting. As soon as you get home get going, get your clothes changed, and get in the car.
I believe the sermon was on Forgiveness. If it wasn’t it should have been. But there would be no forgiveness that day.
Picnics were a sacred thing in our family. Mom would fry up the chicken, put it under foil, and put it in the fridge. Her potato salad is the best in the world and a tempting midnight snack. But the unspoken rule was well understood: Don’t touch the chicken. Don’t get into the salad.
We got home from church. The absolution was pronounced and judgement was to come. Mom opened the fridge. The foil was not in place. A piece of chicken was gone.
Parents need to realize that children are not merely being raised for the moment or for themselves. “No” can be a very good word. We want to raise children who think more of others than of themselves, who are content with what they have, and who are generous with others.
Mom went into orbit. It seemed to last forever before mom and dad finally dashed out of the house with the chicken and potato salad.
It was quiet for a time until someone dared to ask the obvious: Who took the chicken? No judgement. No guilt. No shame. But no one confessed.
My parents instilled great values in us. Life is not all about you. Put the needs of others before your own. Be content and grateful with what you have. Don’t live just for the moment and don’t live just for yourselves.
For 35 years no one spoke of the matter until Mr. and Mrs. Sippy’s 50th anniversary. It was a grand occasion. But the question had to be asked. In the midst of the merriment my sister Renee insisted that the secret finally be revealed. “Who ate the chicken?”
The room was silent until a quiet voice finally spoke. “I ate the chicken.”
The room erupted. It was Dad -- Don Sippy! My Dad cried he laughed so hard. My mom kissed him and told him how terrible he was. “You made those kids suffer all those years!”
We suffered very little. My parents delivered us from ourselves. They taught us to put the needs of others before our own. They taught us to live not for the moment and some instant gratification. They taught us to be content with what we have and generous with others.
It’s no secret: Being a parent is no picnic. But it is easier when we help and encourage each other.
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org