“Do I have to wash all these dishes?” Jenny asked as she put on an apron.
“Sorry, honey,” Mother said. “Elizabeth was so fussy that I spent a lot of time taking care of her. I wasn’t able to do much cleaning today.”
Elizabeth was Jenny’s baby sister, and she had been very fussy lately. Mother said Elizabeth was “teething,” which meant she was getting new teeth. Jenny was sorry Elizabeth was uncomfortable, but still, it didn’t seem fair. It was Jenny’s turn to do the dinner dishes, not the breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes.
Jenny sighed and turned on the water. She filled the sink with lots and lots of bubbles. She liked the way the bubbles shimmered. She pretended the bubbles were snow and piled them into mountains. Then she scooped some up in her hand and pretended it was an ice-cream cone. Finally she blew them off her hand and watched them float above the sink. It was fun to play with the bubbles, but it wasn’t getting the work done. And Jenny had homework to do. She didn’t want the dishes to take all night.
Jenny reached for the nearest pans to put them into the water. “Oh, no!” she thought. “Not the muffin tins!” The muffin tins were always hard to clean. She would have to scrub out each section one at a time and keep checking to make sure they were completely clean.
As Jenny worked, she started thinking about muffins. Her mother had made banana muffins for breakfast that morning. Banana muffins were her favorite kind, and this morning they had been hot and delicious. Jenny had never made muffins before, but she knew her mother had to get up early to make sure they were ready before school. And her mother probably hadn’t gotten much sleep last night because of Elizabeth’s crying. Jenny rinsed the muffin tins carefully and set them out to dry. Somehow, washing the muffin tins didn’t seem like such a chore anymore.
The next thing that needed washing was a large pot. “Ah, yes,” Jenny thought, “Mother cooked macaroni and cheese in this pot.” She lived close enough to her school to walk home for lunch. When she had come home today she had brought her friend Melinda. Jenny’s mother had made them macaroni and cheese with cut-up hot dogs. While they ate, the girls told Jenny’s mother all about the art project they had worked on at school that morning. After they finished lunch, they hurried back to school.
Jenny was glad that she was able to come home during the day, and she was also glad her friends felt welcome in her home. Jenny scrubbed out the macaroni-and-cheese pot carefully. She wanted to make sure it was clean and ready for future lunches with her friends.
The last big dish to wash was the rectangular casserole pan. It still had some scalloped potatoes left in it from dinner. Jenny took a clean spoon, scooped out the potatoes, and popped them into her mouth. Delicious! Jenny knew that the scalloped potato recipe came from her grandmother. Jenny started thinking about her grandmother as she washed the pan. She loved to visit Grandmother. They would often make bread together. And then, while the bread was rising, Grandmother would tell Jenny wonderful stories about her childhood.
Jenny had just finished rinsing all the dishes and was draining the sink when her mother came into the kitchen.
“Finished so soon?” Mother asked. “I hurried back as quickly as I could to help you. I’m sorry that there were so many dishes to do tonight.”
“I don’t mind,” Jenny said. “Doing the dishes gives me time to think about things.”
“Like what?” Mother asked.
“Like family, friends, and good food. You know, it’s actually kind of nice that we have so many dirty dishes to wash.”
“It is?” Mother asked in surprise.
“Sure. Having a lot of dirty dishes just goes to show we have a lot of blessings.”
Mother nodded. “That’s true,” she said. “And one of those blessings is a daughter who cheerfully washes the dishes.”
“Gratitude may be increased by constantly reflecting on our blessings.” Elder Steven E. Snow of the Seventy, “Gratitude,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 44.