“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, a saying you’ve probably heard, and likely have personal experience with. For myself, I would probably add a corollary statement that would say something to the effect that: “and the best way to his stomach is with home baked apple pie!”.
My Uncle Leonard was a personal mentor in my lifelong appreciation of all things related to apple pies. My Uncle was a special person, both to me and to our whole family. His small farm was not far from ours, and we frequently shared our labor, our farm equipment, and our Sunday evenings with he and Aunt Elizabeth and my cousins Bob and Carolyn. Uncle Leonard was like a big kid at times, he loved a game of backyard baseball or puttering around with a go kart or motor scooter (these were the days before 4 wheelers were ubiquitous on just about every farm in America). We would get the call, “we’re putting some burgers on the grill”, or “we’re going to make homemade ice cream tonight”, and we would throw our baseball gloves in the car and head over. Uncle Leonard loved grilling and home made ice cream, but most of all he loved getting together with family. I still remember and can almost picture today the twinkle in my Uncle Leonard’s eyes as he winked at me across the Thanksgiving Day table and confided as he finished a piece of my Mom’s homemade apple pie, “it just doesn’t get any better than this!”.
Sometimes I wonder why this scene has stuck with me so clearly as the years have passed. In hindsight, I think that it’s because my Uncle Leonard was showing me what true gratitude looked like, not just with what he said of course, but with how he lived his life. I can see more clearly now that to him, it was about much more than the pie. It was about being in the moment and feeling a deep sense of gratitude, about truly appreciating that after the hardships of the dustbowl and the depression, after serving on an artillery squad during the war, after losing his father and his infant son, he was here, he was among people he loved, and he truly believed in his heart that “it just doesn’t get any better than this”.
My deepest hope and prayer for you as we enter this season of Advent and gather together as families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, that you can look around you and truly appreciate this moment with grace, and with gratitude.
Jerry Kahrs, Elder
p.s. please pass the apple pie, with ice cream, of course