Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blessing of Bananas

I was feeding Emma and Ian a banana yesterday morning in the car and felt suddenly very grateful that we have bananas and fruits generally here in Germany and in the U.S. where I grew up.

I wasn't sure why I was so grateful.

Emma and Ian are really cute together and Emma kept making sure that I gave some to Ian. Ian kept smiling at Emma after each bite. They genuinely like each other and truly seem to care for each other those two. That was definitely part of it, just being grateful for the opportunity, with my wife, to care for two such wonderful children.

I did recall that a neighbor gave Emma a banana the other day and said that bananas contain many of the vitamins and minerals that a body needs every day and that we should eat a banana everyday. She's in her 80's and still pretty fit, so guess she speaks from experience.

I then suddenly recalled a really cool banana story from the former East Germany. The story was told to me by a colleague who was about eleven when the Berlin Wall fell. A story ripped from the pages of the world history story, or world history through the eyes of an 8 or 9 year old. Not sure if the story would ever actually make the history books, but I found it quite refreshing.

She and some other colleagues who grew up in the former East Germany (GDR) were talking about bananas one day at lunch. They then talked about the special banana shipments in the GDR. They recalled waiting in line and getting bananas. I asked how often this type of a shipment came. They recalled it being about twice a year, or at two times in the year spring and again in the autumn. They joked with each other about waiting in line with their mothers, and talked about how many bananas they would receive (generally based on family size).

One of the colleagues then related this story.

My mom had the great idea that we could get more bananas if we split up and both stood in line separately since I was old enough to stand in line by myself. So the plan was that I would stand in line and ask for bananas and then my mom would stand in line a few people back and ask for bananas as well. Twice the bananas, a brilliant idea. A brilliant idea until I turned to my mom and asked how many bananas did we need again mom? Then it wasn't such a great idea. Six months later, we could work the plan to perfection and we got twice the bananas.

I enjoyed that story so much and found it to be such an interesting perspective on "world events".

I then realized in the car with my children that I enjoy the fruits of so many people's labors and share that with my children without much forethought, without knowledge regarding how bananas get to Germany, and without much gratitude most of the time. I was a bit more grateful that morning while caring for my two youngest children and hope it continues.


Martina said...

In the former GDR, if there was a line in front of a shop, people would join the line without even knowing what special item had come in. They'd talk to the others in line, and rumors would run wild, and if they were lucky they were able to buy something that wasn't normally available. Often, though, whatever it was sold out before everybody got a turn.

We used to send care packages to a family in the GDR. All outgrown clothes, coffee, canned fruits, make-up, potato chips, you name it, they were happy for it. Once we even visited with a carload of stuff, mainly toys that my brother had outgrown, but also a dinky little black and white TV - they couldn't believe that we would just part with all of it.

I guess we're so used to having everything that we can't imagine it being otherwise.

My point? I'm not sure. Eat bananas and be thankful for them

Gardner said...

Hi Martina,

nice experiences as well. I enjoy the personal stories the best.

I did get to visit the former GDR in 1992. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Now that I am back in Germany, I have been very grateful for the opportunity to work with some people who grew up in the GDR.

Cheers, Gardner

March 2007