When our neighbor mentioned they had just started drinking coffee, and were looking for a thermos to take coffee on morning boat rides, I thought - 'we have an extra thermos.' Sure enough there it stood, tucked in the back of the cupboard, next to a brand new, shiny, non-funny-smelling one. As I stood over the sink washing it out with hot soapy suds, memories began to wash over me.
All those miles - all those hours spent carving out a marriage, and family. Late at night, both of us staring ahead at the stripe down the middle of the highway, the only lights coming from trucks that passed us, or other cars traveling late at night too. Kids asleep in the back seats, or at least pretending to be, as the two of us talked and talked and talked. About big stuff, and little stuff, and funny memories. And family drama and hurt and angst. About money or the lack thereof. About dreams and hopes and how to pay for college, and deal with a sassy kid, or one struggling in school. About trips we would take someday, when the kids were finally paid for and raised and on their own. We took that thermos with us, driving back for his father's funeral - when we drove clear through the night and every motel flashed 'no vacancy' only because the owner got tired of waiting up and went to bed.
Standing there washing that sort of crummy looking thermos, I realized I was holding something holy. I could not give it away - it is just too much a part of the fiber of our family. We grew into who we are today with that thermos riding between us. That semi-crummy thermos has seen too many tears and heard too much laughter and too many whispers, to ever belong to anyone else.
Our kids drink Starbucks for the most part - they don't travel with Stanley thermoses, but still I know they would not want me to give away this visible reminder of where our family started, and what we grew into. It might be time to take out the new thermos, use the one that doesn't smell funky, but I'm looking for a shelf somewhere in our home, a place of honor for the other one. Most who visit our home won't understand why it's there, but the five of us will, and really that's all that matters. A reminder that sometimes we are blessed and the ordinary becomes so much more.