A Farmhouse Taught Me What I Know About Gratitude

A Farmhouse Taught Me What I Know About Gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

I’m not sure when exactly it’s supposed to hit you that you’re a grown-up, or really if it is one specific time, but I know that something that comes along with becoming a real grown-up is the idea of gratitude. I learned this from being away from my family and the farmhouse that I grew up in.

I don’t mean that in moving away to college I have learned in one of my lectures what the definition of gratitude is, but rather moving away from what I have always had has allowed me to recognize just what I did have.

My Nana and Papaw have lived in a white-walled, black-roofed farmhouse since my mom was a little girl. My nana always used to tell us it was built by Native Americans, and I believed her until I was probably 12 years old. (It is old, but not that old.) It has ivy leaves covering the whole north side of the house and a decent sized hand-built wooden porch in the backyard. There is a rope hanging from what I used to think was the biggest tree in the world over the porch. I have memories of my cousins and I swinging off the side of the deck pretending to be Tarzan, stopping my mom’s heart every time our feet left the safety of the wood until the second they landed.

On the side of the house, there is another deck. This one has a porch swing, and now, half of it is filled with the wood stacks to use for the fireplace in the winter. Two old garages, filled with one man’s garbage and another man’s treasure peek out from the woods in the backyard. The home looks out onto a cornfield and faces west, perfect for sitting on the back of the pickup truck to watch the sunsets. The driveway is inviting, long and gravel-paved. I remember my dad dropping us off at the end of it and my sisters and I racing his car, as he barely touched the gas, letting us think we were the coolest of kids for beating him to the front door.

Growing up, each of these things meant so much to me. The gravel driveway was a runway and a creek for my cousins and me to build dams with the hose on in the summer while my mom and aunts would make lunch. The garages were grounds for adventure, treasure hunting, and finding trinkets. The ventilation hole above the fireplace was the location of a newly-invented pulley system for dad to put snacks in our makeshift caddy as we reeled it back upstairs so that we didn’t have to go downstairs to get candy.

The basement was a mystery and a place for spooky stories that we would never know the answers to. The dolphin wallpaper in the bedroom upstairs was perfect for our mermaid adventures, and the curved staircase was a perfect Barbie Dreamhouse. The living room was the stage for Christmas Eve plays that my cousins and I would put on for our parents. This house was our world.

Looking back, after spending time in my little four-walled dorm room, three hours from my family, and three hours from my cousins, who are growing up before my eyes and making memories without me, I have learned what gratitude feels like. I have learned how much of a blessing it is to have a family that can come together in a farmhouse in Ohio every month, to have support from my aunts and uncles in order to do whatever I want, to have cousins who are more like best friends, and to have a place that I can call home.

I have learned that I may not have come from the wealthiest family, but I came from a family full of love and joy and that is what matters. Being raised a Martin has given me the confidence to be proud of where I have come from and the trust to know that He is taking me far and onto better things. I feel confident that this newfound feeling of true gratitude will keep me grounded in my endeavors in the future, that no matter how far I go, I will always have the long gravel road up to that farmhouse.

Cover Image Credit: Erika Glover

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14 Things You Relate To If You Grew Up WithOUT Any Cousins

*GASP* "What, you really don't have any cousins?"


It always shocks every person who hears me state that I do not have any cousins. For some reason, this is just hard for people to really believe when it's actually not something impossible. I think we are all just so used to large families that it sounds weird when people say that they have no cousins. Yet, it is definitely a potential reality, and actually impossible if each of your parents is the only child to your grandparents.

Here are 14 things that you can relate to if you grew up without any cousins.

1. Nobody believes you when you say that you don't have any cousins

I'm serious, for the tenth time.

2. Your grandparents spoil you

With no other grandchildren to worry about, it's pretty easy to do.

3. You don't understand when people say that cousins are your first best friends

My best friend was my first best friend.

4. You and your siblings are always the youngest people at family events

This was simultaneosuly a good thing and a bad thing.

5. You get all of the attention at holidays

Since you're the youngest one around, then distant relatives are always doting over you.

6. Everything you do is deemed awesome by your extended family because there is nobody to compete with

It's much easier to be praised when you aren't being compared to someone similar to your age.

7. You don't know how to hold babies

You're never around them so why would you?

8. Family photos are pretty easy to coordinate

The less people, the easier.

9. Other family members spoil you just because 

Afterall, you are the only kid around...

10. The family will make comments regarding the potential for you to have a cousin as a justification for why they aren't doing something for you

When you hear, "I can't buy you too much because someday your aunt is going to have kids and I will have to do the same for them" you cringe and just had to know that all of the attention wouldn't last forever.

11. Birthdays are always a big deal

A perk of not having very many to remember.

12. If your parents' siblings own pets, then you refer to the animal as your cousin

Cat cousins, dog cousins, lizard cousins, and fish cousins can be pretty cool, actually.

13. Sometimes you dream of marrying into a big family

This is to ensure that your kids do grow up with cousins.

14. You appreciate the closeness of your tight-knit fam

Maybe the only thing you would miss if you had a big family is the opportunity to develop such close bonds with the few relatives that you do have.

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