Jul 27, 2006

The Tangled Thread

My Grandma came from the old country across the ocean. Occasionally she would tell me stories of the Catholic village where she was born, like this story of the twisted thread.

Over a hundred years ago, a young man was looking for a wife. He met a young girl in a village located some distance away from his own. The girl was quite attractive, and the young man hoped to marry her. In that time, it was expected that the parents would meet and approve of the prospective spouse of one of their children before he/she became engaged. The parents' evaluation was an important part of courtship.

The girl arrived in a horse and buggy driven by one of her uncles. The nervous young man helped her out of the buggy and escorted her into the house where he introduced her to his parents. The mother asked the young girl to sit down, and the three men decided to go outside.

The mother tried to make the young girl feel at ease and complimented her on her promptness and pretty dress. As the mother talked, she picked up her basket of sewing and began to patch some clothes, a never-ending chore in that time period. The girl gradually felt comfortable enough to engage in a conversation with the mother.

The mother suddenly put down her needle and said to the girl, "I've so much sewing to do, but I've tangled this thread. Can you help me untangle it?"

[The story has two endings.]

First ending--The girl looked at the tangled thread and was distressed because the twisted knots looked like they could never be untangled. She then picked up the tangled thread and realized she had to do what the young man's mother asked her. But as she worked to untangle the wad, she found the work very tedious and she became more and more irritated. After twenty minutes, she blurted out in frustration that the thread was too tangled and should be thrown away. The conversation continued, but the girl was inwardly upset that the mother had asked her guest to perform such an unnecessary and difficult chore. Nevertheless, the goodbyes were cordial and the mother said she was pleased to have met the young girl.

Second Ending--The girl picked up the wad of tangled thread and asked if the mother had a crochet hook. The mother responded she had lent her hook to her sister so her sister could teach her daughter how to crochet. The girl commented that she had learned to crochet from her mother. The girl began to work at untangling the thread, but had made little progress after 20 mintes. It took almost two hours for the young girl to hand over the wound thread to the young man's mother. The mother was very appreciative, the goodbyes were cordial, and the mother said she was pleased to have met the young girl.

Have you guessed that the tangled thread was the mother's test of the virtue of patience? The mother wanted her son to marry a good young woman with much patience, someone who would gracefully endure the occasional deficiencies of her spouse.

1 comment:

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