An icy lesson in contentment

June 25, 2019


Early in our marriage, Bob and I had a house that came with a refrigerator that didn’t have an ice-maker. I know, it was a modern-day, first-world tragedy. It was tough, but after much soul-searching, we decided we had to live with it for a while until we could afford other silly things like food, shelter and baby diapers. 

I bought blue plastic ice-cube trays, which weren’t easy to find, and I even came across an old metal tray with the pull-lever that was never easy to pull but oh, so quaint and cute. Each cube of ice became a precious commodity in our hot, humid Southern climate. When company came, we’d splurge on store-bought ice and felt like royalty. 

One summer, college friends visited, and we didn’t have time to get a bag of ice, so we made do with what we had. After dinner, I carefully refilled the trays and put them into the freezer so we’d have lots of ice the next day. But at breakfast, our friend decided to forgo the hot coffee and poured himself a big Co-cola. Making himself at home, which we loved, he casually dumped an entire tray of ice into his giant tumbler. 

Bob and I almost fell over from horror.  We’ve laughed for years about how something as tiny as an ice cube could suddenly become so precious. Our plans for the day immediately changed because one of us had to run to the Gassy-Go and buy more ice. 

Focusing on what we don’t have reaches beyond material things. 

Those who are lonely dream about friends. Those who can’t read crave stories. A child without a father only sees daddies everywhere he looks. And a broken heart craves love. And yes, there are people in the world who only thirst for clean water, frozen or not. We are wired to focus on what is missing, and to locate the piece of the puzzle that completes us, even when it’s something as simple as a cold drink on a humid Alabama day. 

After we saved our money and remodeled the kitchen, we splurged and added a separate ice maker. I loved that appliance (almost) more than any child I’ve had. I’d sit on the floor and polish it until it was as shiny as Miss America’s crown. If I put my ear against it, it would hum for me. The magical invention made little nugget shaped ice with a divot in the center to cuddle our beverages. Sometimes, if we were in a bad mood, we’d extravagantly fill big cups with cubes and swirl them round and round — just to watch them die. 

It’s only human to want what we don’t have and ignore the gifts already present. The tea may be refreshingly sweet, but dang, if it was only cold, we’d love it more. 

We moved away from that house and left the ice-maker behind, and it’s true that once a luxury is tasted, it becomes a necessity, because now, even though we have plenty of regular old ice-in-the-door used by most commoners, we still talk about the dreamy olden days when we had a specialized ice maker. Then again, we also reminisce about the simple days when all we needed to make us happy was a case of diapers and a few chunks of ice in our tea. 

  • We forget the things we didn’t have growing up versus today. My, how I hated having to fill those ice trays.
    Never giving it a second thought not having those ice cubes on a hot, hot day in Alabama.
    Now I hate filling the dishwasher and unloading all those dishes but I’m sure glad I have one.

    • So true! I hate doing laundry but often think of my great grandmother washing clothes for 13 children – and them pushing a few buttons isn’t so bad!

  • We were living in Houston years ago when Hurricane David hit. No power for almost 2 weeks in August and never mind the oak tree sprawled across the roof. Scalpers were selling ice for $20 a bag until the governor stopped it. Would I have paid $20 for ice if I could have gotten some? You bet your sweet tea I would have! But if all I have to complain about is a lack of ice from 30 years ago, then I am truly blessed.

  • Maria Rosso says:

    I was wondering why you weren’t in the Sunday paper. What’s the use of having it delivered if I can’t read my favorite column in it?

    Don’t worry, I WILL be writing to Mr. Holloway.

    • Thank you Maria. It’s best if you let these others know your concerns. I appreciate your effort and loyalty!

  • I do guess it is our human nature to want what we do not have. I remember my first trip to Europe in 2003, I was horrified that there was no ice for my coke, I am not particularly fond of room temperature soft drinks. I survived. Fast forward to 2011 and I went on a mission trip to Togo, West Africa and there was no clean water to drink and children were dying from drinking the only water they had. Eye opening for sure!

    • Absolutely! Some only want a safe place to sleep and no disease. We’ve been spoiled to crave good ice with divots in the center! The world is a fascinating troubling place for sure! (and then there’s the hair conditioner . . .) Thanks Pam.

  • Karen Roloson says:

    I think that a person who forgets to refill the ice tray deserves everything that is coming to him. Fortunately, we now have an ice maker in both our home frig and motorhome. Consequently, David is still with us.

  • We don’t even have our ice maker hooked up. And I actually use those old metal trays with the pull lever instead of the newer plastic trays, and they work just fine!

  • You never appreciate ice as much until after a hurricane goes through and it’s all you can think about.

    • Oh, you are so right! I forgot about that. Those who deliver ice after the storm are angels, aren’t they? Thanks for the reminder. That may be an entirely new story!

  • ron meszaros says:

    You realize an iceberg –which is a relative to ice–sunk the Titanic and killed Leonardo DiCaprio and thousands more. I cannot forgive ice.

    • Do you believe I’ve never watched, “Titanic?” Someone was killed by ice? Yet confirming my decision.

  • I had to chuckle. I find ice to be my greatest luxury nothing better then the perfect ice in your drink. Often think about those who have no access to ice in this world. As I tell my husband I’m a simple person in many ways.

    • I think we think about our ice more than most due to our hot climate! Some people are ice crunchers, and they have particulars as well! Thanks Andrea.

  • I just this evening once again looked longingly on Amazon at the home ice maker that makes Sonic type ice. It’s on sale. Do I need it? No I do not. My refrigerator makes perfectly fine ice, and plenty of it. Yes it’s those crescent moon shaped wedges, but they are frozen and plentiful and do the job of making the tea (half as sweet now that I’m trying to loose weight) and the Co-Cola (the itty bitty small cans now, see above) nice and cold. But, man, the Sonic type ice makes both so much better!

    You are so right about seeing what is missing instead of focusing on what we have! Great story and timely, too!

    • I didn’t know others struggled with the ice issue as well! I’m still overseas and just yesterday had my first cup of ice with a drink in weeks! I had to request it as a special order with the waitress. It was a big treat since they don’t “do” ice over here. Thanks for your note and good luck on the half-sweet tea mission!

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